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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - One less unexploded bomb to worry about

One less unexploded bomb to worry about

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An MK82 aircraft bomb is destroyed by CMAC.

T

he Phnom Penh-based CMAC EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) team has destroyed another

unexploded MK82 aircraft bomb, the legacy of American B-52 bombing of Cambodia during

the war.

The latest controlled explosion took place on Friday 27 July in a bamboo forest in

Sre Ambel district, one kilometer from Highway 4, where the bomb had been found by

local people. Difficult terrain made moving the bomb to CMAC's demolition field in

Kampong Speu Province impossible, so the decision was taken to detonate it where

it had fallen.

CMAC EOD teams throughout the country are assisted by three technical advisors from

the Belgian Army which has sent personnel to Cambodia for six month rotations since

early 1994. The scope of the UXO (unexploded ordinance) problem in Cambodia is familiar

to that of Belgium - each year EOD teams there get around 3,500 calls to handle UXO

from the two world wars.

Technical advisor Marc Devroedt, 39, said: "We have worked for 85 years [in

Belgium] and the figures stay the same: they don't go down."

He said UXOs, unlike minefields which can be cleared in around 20 to 30 years, would

be found in Cambodia 100 years from now.

Luc Bodart, 42, the senior technical advisor, said that although the bombs typically

buried themselves up to four meters under the ground, they slowly worked their way

to the surface over time.

Bombs failed to explode for several reasons: muddy ground could prevent the fuse

from triggering; excess payload was sometimes dumped from low altitude by B-52s,

which prevented the fuse from arming; and failure of the fuse. The MK82, he said,

contains more than 80 kilograms of explosives and weighs around three times as much.

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