A 227-kilo, US-made Mark-82 bomb was recovered from the Tonle Sap river without incident by an elite Cambodian dive team yesterday morning.
According to Mike Nisi, a former US Navy SEAL who supervised the dive, four 105mm artillery shells were also found in two river sites near Preak Pnuv, just south of Phnom Penh, over the 10-day operation.
The US-supported Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) Salvage Dive Unit consists of 11 Cambodian divers.
In yesterday’s three and half hour operation, the Cold War-era bomb, which was submerged 6-metres deep in water with “zero visibility”, was brought to the surface using a remotely inflated balloon that was attached to the ordnance by a diver, said Nisi.
The bomb was then hooked to a cable and pulled to shore by car, allowing the team to keep a 200-metre distance.
Nisi said CMAC learned of the bomb through local fishermen, who had been snagging their nets on the leftover ordnance.
According to Allen Tan, country manager for the Golden West Humanitarian Foundation, a US demining group that supports CMAC, the ordnance likely belonged to forces fighting for the US-backed Lon Nol regime.
Each of the recovered explosives was missing a fuse, said Tan, which suggested that – at least in the case of the artillery shells – they were being transported by boat before being lost.
The recovered UXO have been transferred to CMAC’s headquarters in Kampong Chhnang for disposal, he said.