One man was killed and another injured Saturday night after a mine explosion in a restricted area near the border with North Korea, police said Sunday.
According to police and military officials, the wooden-boxed land mine was believed to have drifted south after recent heavy rainfall in the North.
Military investigators found an additional 17 mines Sunday morning near the accident area.
“It is unlikely that the North had floated the mines deliberately,” said an official from the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“It appears that the mines buried or stored had washed away due to the flooding in North Korea.”
It was the first time that the boxed mines have been found in the South, the official added.
A North Korean wooden-boxed land mine found near Ganghwa Island. Yonhap News
The explosion occurred around 11:20 p.m. Saturday in Yeoncheon, a border county 60 kilometers northeast of Seoul.
A 48-year-old villager, known only by his last name Han, died at the scene, while a 25-year-old man surnamed Kim, was admitted to a hospital with injuries to his face and arms.
They picked up two boxed mines on their way back from fishing in the Imjin River near the inter-Korean border, police said. Only one of the mines exploded as the detonation cap of the other was not separated.
Police and military investigators were inspecting the exact cause of the accident and how they gained entrance to the area which is off limits to civilians after sunset.
With the Army search for the mines ongoing during the weekend, a total of 36 wooden-boxed land mines had been found as of Sunday evening along the streams that connect with North Korea, military officials said.
The mines are made to explode when their lid is opened. With the safety pin removed, pressure of just 1 kilogram can detonate the explosive, military officials explained.
On Saturday, the Army restricted access to the border area and issued warnings to locals and vacationers to take extra caution.
The South Korean Army sent a message through a cross-border military hotline Sunday, urging the North to prevent the recurrence of similar accidents, the Defense Ministry said.
By Lee Ji-yoon (email@example.com