Accidental Explosion Kills Lao Military Instructor, Injures 26 Students

Source: Vientiane Times

A trainer was killed and 26 secondary school students suffered minor injuries in an explosion accident yesterday morning during a military-tactics training drill at a secondary school in northern Oudomxay province, a police officer said.

The tragedy happened as the trainer, Military First Lieutenant Somphone brought both real and fake grenades to the training course held at a secondary school in Xay district. The trainer accidentally took the real grenade and pulled its pin as he was demonstrating how to use the grenade.

“First lieutenant Somphone later realised that the grenade he had pulled the pin on was a real one and he then used himself to cover the grenade to protect the students,” Chief of Police Headquarters of the district, Lieutenant Colonel Maidaeng Khampanya told Vientiane Times .

The trainer was killed instantly while some 26 students suffered minor injuries, Lieutenant Colonel Maidaeng said after his team rushed to the scene and cleared the incident. He confirmed that the injured students had been sent to Oudomxay provincial Hospital.

Head of the Outpatients Division of the provincial hospital, Dr Somphan Oudomphan confirmed that the students had suffered only minor injuries, mostly shrapnel wounds.

However, three injured students who suffered symptoms such as difficulty breathing were sent to Mangkone Hospital, a Chinese-run hospital in the province to undergo CT scans to identify the causes, according to Dr Somphan.

As of 3pm, only eight students remained in the provincial hospital for treatment and they are expected to go home today after most of them were discharged yesterday.

Lieutenant Colonel Maidaeng stated that only fake grenades are ever used for such training courses, but the trainers, who have been running such courses for years, this time brought both real and fake grenades to the training course.

“It was an accident. Normally he [the trainer] brought only fake grenades to the training course. It is routine practice that only the fake grenades are brought to such training courses,” Lieutenant Colonel Maidaeng said.

Organising military-tactical training courses for secondary school students are normally compulsory for Lao students.