Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Boooooom! Record bomb find goes sky high

Boooooom! Record bomb find goes sky high

Boooooom! Record bomb find goes sky high

One of the six bombs - which totalled 1.5 tonnes - at the bottom of a three meter trench is safely blown up.

A

cluster of six 1970s-era American bombs recently recovered from the Mekong River

were safely detonated by Explosive Ordinance Division personnel of the Cambodian

Mine Action Center at the demining agency's Kandal Province demolition site on June

6.

The six 250 kilogram MK-82 "Snake-eye" high explosive bombs were discovered

on May 24 within meters of each other on and around Dechor Island near Neak Leung,

half-way along Route One to Vietnam, and constitute the largest single discovery

of unexploded ordinance in CMAC's seven-year history.

"The first bomb was discovered by a fisherman, and when we showed up he told

us where to find the other five," said Belgian EOD Field Technical Advisor David

Godrie. "One of them was sticking out of the water like an asparagus."

According to Godrie, the bombs were dropped from American B-52s some time during

1975.

One of six bombs dropped by US B-52s is recovered from the Mekong

Between 1970 and 1975 American bombers dropped more than two million tonnes of bombs

on Cambodia in a total of 43, 415 air attacks. The American bombing was done secretly,

without Congressional approval, and the devastation it caused has been cited by some

scholars as a reason the Khmer Rouge were able to attract so many shell-shocked peasants

to its ranks.

"These bombs are demolition bombs, designed to destroy buildings, concrete and

villages," explained Belgian EOD Senior Technical Advisor Yvan Janssens. "They

were probably dropped too low and their fuse mechanisms had inadequate time to be

prepped for detonation."

Godrie and Janssens speculated that the bombs were dropped in the fairly isolated

and sparsely populated Dechor Island area by an American B-52 crew jettisoning unused

bombs before returning to base.

"I don't know why they dropped the bombs here, nobody knows," said Godrie.

"A poor little island on the Mekong ... what kind of target is that?"

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