A helicopter carrying Western journalists, diplomats and Cambodian soldiers set off two land mines while trying to touch down at a remote temple that until recently was rebel-controlled. Three people were injured.
A second helicopter flew the injured to the northern city of Siem Reap for medical treatment. All were later discharged. They were identified as Lawrence Pickup, deputy head of Britain's diplomatic mission; Dom Hak, an army general; and the pilot, Koy Tha.The overloaded, Soviet-built MI-8 transport helicopter, carrying at least 44 people, was supposed to land at a helipad. But the pilot apparently lost control in strong winds and came down on a mine field instead, Dom Hak said.
"Two mines exploded right under the helicopter after it touched down," Dom Hak said at Siem Reap provincial hospital.
The 16 journalists included Cambodian and foreign employees of the Associated Press, World Television News, the British Broadcasting Corp., Reuters news agency, NDN TV of Japan and German television. In addition to the three injured people, some of the other passengers were either shaken up or lightly bruised in the explosion.
Thirty years of upheaval have left Cambodia with an estimated 4 million to 6 million land mines. They form a major part of the defenses around the clifftop temple of Preah Vihear, located on the Thai border and long a stronghold of the Khmer Rouge rebels.