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Mekong UXO search off until waters recede

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Underwater explosive ordnance disposal teams search for UXOs in the Mekong River in Kandal province last year. CMAC

Mekong UXO search off until waters recede

Officials have requested modern technological equipment to enable them to continue their work of collecting unexploded ordnance (UXO) in sunken warships in the Mekong River in four areas of Kandal and Preveng provinces.

Authorities have found many weapons and other UXOs in Lvea Em and Khsach Kandal districts of Kandal province and in Peam Chor and Peamro districts of Prey Veng province, but their efforts to retrieve and dispose of them have been postponed due to high levels of water and the lack of some technical equipment.

Mey Sophea, commander of the UXO Clearance Unit under the National Centre for Peacekeeping Force and Explosive Remnants of War Clearance (NPMEC), told The Post on January 24 that so far the search operation team at the Mekong River floor had yet to resume its activities due to certain technical requirements.

Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) director-general Heng Ratana, whose officials also joined the search operation, told The Post on January 24 that the collection of munitions from the river floors had not been suspended. The operation will resume when the water recedes, probably in February or March.

“CMAC operation officials do not clear only one or two areas, as long as there are munitions, we will arrive to conduct our activities. As for technical equipment, there is nothing lacking in my unit. What’s important is the water barrier. The levels are too high for us to carry out our work,” he said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen in January last year ordered continued searching for UXO in and around shipwrecks in the four locations where ships were sunk during the civil war between 1970 and 1975.

According to an expert research report, warships and the threats of UXO under water in the Mekong River were originally detected in five locations, including Meanchey commune’s Veal village of Kampong Cham province’s Srei Santhor district. The retrieval of UXO from the shipwreck in Kampong Cham had been had completed, with more than 16 tonnes of munitions collected from the ship.

In Boeung Krom commune of Kandal province’s Lvea Em district, the teams had began carrying out search operations in March.

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