HONG KONG (AP) _ A British officer serving with a Gurkha battalion died in an explosion at a military base near the border with China, a military spokesman said today.

Maj. James Richford, 34, of the 1st-2nd Gurka Rifles, died in the blast Sunday morning at the Cassino Lines base, according to Dennis Cheung of the Joint Service Public Relations Staff.

A Gurkha officer seriously injured in the explosion is being treated at a British military hospital, Cheung said.

The army is investigating the cause of the explosion, he added.

The 900-strong Gurkha battalion arrived in this British colony in November 1986. One of the soldiers' main jobs is patrolling the border with China to stop illegal immigrants crossing into the territory.