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CMAA advises caution as floodwaters unearth mines

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A CMAA official inspects unexploded ordnance after floods last year. CMAA

CMAA advises caution as floodwaters unearth mines

The Cambodian Mine Action Authority (CMAA) has issued in structions to all capital-provincial mine action committees and demining operators to continue to educate the public about the dangers of explosives, especially accidental detonation of explosive ordnance that may be unearthed by the floodwaters during and after the floods.

The CMAA said on October 4 that according to the announcement on the climate situation by the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, Cambodia is currently being affected by the 16th typhoon Noru, which has caused moderate to heavy rainfall, in addition to more rainfall coming from the direction of Thailand.

These factors can cause flash flooding due to the already excessive water levels in the northwestern provinces, including Oddar Meanchey, Preah Vihear, Ratanakiri, Siem Reap, Banteay Meanchey, Battambang, Pailin and Pursat, according to the same announcement.

“During and after the floods, some explosive ordnance was found due to landslides flowing from areas with anti-personnel mines, anti-tank mines and various ERW, all of which could be dangerous to the lives of people, especially people living near the areas affected by explosives,” the notice stated.

The CMAA also instructed all stakeholders to cooperate and inform residents by reporting to local authorities, village chiefs, commune chiefs or deminers nearby when explosives are found in their vicinity.

The CMAA also instructed all relevant parties to respond in a timely manner for the collection and destruction of explosive ordnance that residents have reported and to immediately put up markers in any suspected areas that could have additional explosive ordnance which could be unearthed by the waters.

Minh Sron, chief of the Sixth Mine Action Unit of the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC), responsible for Preah Vihear, Oddar Meanchey and Stung Treng provinces, said that last year the areas with mines were more heavily affected by landslides which moved the mines or explosives to other areas during the floods and heavy rainfall, but for so far this year there have been no accidents due to mines or explosives during floods.

“Where there is a minefield and it has not been cleared and the water is flowing into that area, then you can assume that the mines will float through the water to various other places, so people need to be very careful,” he said.

Sron said that there is a network in the capital and all provinces down to the districts and police stations throughout the country that can disseminate information on the dangers of landmines and explosive devices to people in the local villages and schools as well.

“Most of our network members are local police officers who regularly educate and disseminate information on landmines and explosives,” he said.

According to CMAA, from January 1979 to September 2022, a total of 65,004 victims of unexploded ordnance (UXO) have been recorded by the Cambodia Mine/ERW Victim Information System (CMVIS).

Of these, 52,649 were male (81 per cent) and 6,106 were boys under the age of 18 (9 per cent), while 4,793 were women (8 per cent) and 1,393 were girls under the age of 18 (2 per cent). There were also 63 unidentified victims.

There were 28 accidents involving landmines and ERW from January to September 2022. This figure is exactly equal to the figure provided for the same period in 2021.

Those 28 explosive ordnance accidents this year included 16 landmine accidents and 12 explosive ordnance accidents that left 40 casualties. This casualty figure showed an increase of 18 per cent compared to the same period in 2021 with 34 victims.

Of the 40 victims, 18 were victims of land mines and 22 were victims of explosive remnants of war. Ten people were killed, 23 were injured and seven were paralysed. The victims were 27 men, 12 boys under the age of 18 and one woman.

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