British diplomat in Cambodia hurt by landmine

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The Independent Online
A BRITISH diplomat in Cambodia was injured yesterday when the helicopter he was travelling in crash-landed on a landmine.

Lawrence Pickup, Britain's number two in Phnom Penh, suffered minor cuts and bruises when he and a number of journalists were sent tumbling from the Cambodian army helicopter. Foreign Office officials said the deputy head of mission appeared to have had a lucky escape.

Mr Pickup had been travelling in the north of Cambodia, close to the Thai border, to interview defecting Khmer Rouge guerrillas, who he believed might have had information about the missing landmine clearance expert Christopher Howes. Mr Howes, from Bristol, went missing two years ago when he was seized by gunmen, believed to belong to the rebels. Defecting Khmer Rouge guerrillas gave up control of the ancient Preah Vihear temple to government forces earlier this week, and the official hoped someone might have information on Mr Howes.

The MI-8 transport helicopter was coming in to land at the mountain-top Preah Vihear ruins on the Thai border when it became entangled in wire and crash-landed. The aircraft's tail then set off a landmine, an airforce official said. The aircraft was apparently beyond repair.

Britain's ambassador to Cambodia, George Edgar, confirmed that Mr Pickup suffered cuts and bruises.

The news of the accident came as the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, last night opened an exhibition at the Imperial War Museum in south London, dedicated to depicting the human cost of the use of landmines. The guests at the reception included Paul Burrell, the former butler to Diana, Princess of Wales. Diana campaigned passionately against anti-personnel landmines and it is to hermemory that the exhibition is dedicated.

Mr Cook saw protective body armour worn by the princess when she visited Angola to further the drive against landmines, as well as TV news footage of her campaigning.