The Mines Advisory Group’s (MAG) unexploded ordnance (UXO) clearance teams found and destroyed four huge bombs in Laos’ Khammuan and Xieng Khuang provinces in a single week.
Teams found and rendered inoperable four large air-dropped bombs in Bualapha district, Khammuan province and Paek district, Xieng Khuang province.
The first large bomb weighing 340kg was found by a UK government-funded team during clearance of farmland in Langkhang village, only 20m away from a road and 7m from a high voltage power transmission line.
The second bomb weighing 227kg was found during clearance of paddy fields in Nahome village, just 600m from a residential area.
The third bomb weighing 113kg was found by a US government-funded team during clearance of farmland in Paek district. It was found only 100m from a road into Xang village.
The fourth bomb weighing 227kg was reported to MAG’s Japanese government-funded community liaison team by a member of the community in Khagnou village, in an area which was formerly part of the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
So far this year, MAG has identified over 117sq km of land as contaminated by UXO through survey processes.
MAG has cleared 7,746,261sq km of land from UXO, enabling communities in Khammuan and Xieng Khuang to have access to safe land for farming and development.
Through surveys, clearance and roving tasks, MAG safely destroyed 10 large air-dropped bombs as well as 16,994 cluster submunitions and other UXO items.
MAG also delivered 172 risk education sessions to 4,658 people. All of this is helping thousands of people to use their land safely without fear and to re-build their futures.
In February, a MAG UXO clearance team found two huge unexploded bombs in Khammuan province.
The large bombs weighing 340kg and 227kg were found near the side of a road in a paddy field in Yommalath district.
Unexploded devices are an obstacle to socio-economic development, contaminating land that could otherwise be used for the development of agriculture, industry, tourism, education and the construction of infrastructure.
Government authorities have been working with ministries, other sectors and local authorities to set priority areas for clearance, especially land that can be used for development purposes as well as residential areas, to support social and economic development.
UXO clearance is currently underway in the provinces of Huaphan, Luang Prabang, Xieng Khuang, Khammuan, Savannakhet, Saravan, Champasak, Xekong and Attapeu.
Clearance operations aim to free up land for activities that will enhance the well-being and livelihoods of impoverished rural communities.
VIENTIANE TIMES/ASIA NEWS NETWORK