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Civil war shipwreck set to be retrieved

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A warship sunk in Kampong Cham province’s Srei Santhor district in the early 1970s during the civil war is raised from the Mekong's riverbed and brought to land. DEFENCE MINISTRY

Civil war shipwreck set to be retrieved

Unexploded ordnance (UXO) in a warship sunk in the Mekong River’s Kandal province in the early 1970s during the civil war is planned to be retrieved next week after the wreck’s exact location was determined.

This operation comes after the recent successful removal of UXO from a sunken ship in Kampong Cham province.

Mey Sophea, commander of the UXO Clearance Unit of the National Centre for Peacekeeping Force and Explosive Remnants of War Clearance, told The Post on April 22 that his divers had already determined the geography of the riverbed and would begin removing UXO from the warship next week.

"We’ve spent about a month to determine the exact location. We have nine suspicious locations, and then we started searching from one location to another until we finally could identify the area,” he said.

Sophea said the shipwreck was located in Boeung Krom commune’s Boeung Krom village, in Kandal province's Lvea Em district. The warship was loaded with military cargo and had a capacity of about 800 tonnes. People called it Plang Tong.

Sophea said that after removing the UXO, the divers would salvage the warship. The team spent a month studying the area to determine the exact location of the ship as the water is about 30m deep.

According to Sophea, his team is preparing equipment to retrieve the ship’s ammunition. The area has a large quantity of ammunition with not only small-sized ammunition that is easy to remove by hand but also larger artillery shells.

According to Sophea, it would take a year to remove UXO and the ships from the river at the second site in Boeung Krom commune and two other sites in Prey Veng province's Peamro district.

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