Demining operators clearing underwater unexploded ordnance (UXO) from the wreckage of sunken warships have recovered nearly 3,000 munitions over the past year, including mines and guns weighing more than 40 tonnes, according to the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC).

CMAC director-general Heng Ratana revealed the results on February 7 at an unexploded ordnance disposal operation site in Peam Raing commune’s Koh Peam Raing village of Kandal province’s Loeuk Dek district, where a public forum was held on sand dredging to support the UXO and wreckage retrieval operations for the sunken warships.

“In the eight months of this operation, we have recovered 2,707 UXO munitions, including 36 mines and two guns weighing more than 40 tonnes,” he said.

He added that the inter-ministerial commission on studying and retrieving the UXO from the wreckage of sunken warships had held the forum to give people a better understanding of what is going on and to address the concerns and requests of the people living on Peam Raing Island and near the UXO clearance operation areas.

He continued that local people had expressed some concerns that sand dredging may potentially cause landslides of riverbanks or loss of land from the entire island.

Responding to the concern, Ratana said the operations involved the use of modern equipment, clearly marked maps and the sand dredging is being done to clear tonnes of unexploded ordnance under the riverbed near the upper part of the island. Also, the land that has been dug would be refilled after the operation.

“During this operation, we won’t cause any impacts on the people or cause landslides on Peam Raing Island. The operation is for the safety and security of the people and serves the interests of the people and national society as well as supporting the development of the nation,” Ratana said.

An inter-ministerial team was established on August 28, 2020 to study and recover UXO on sunken ship.

The first operation began in Meanchey commune’s Veal village of Kampong Cham province’s Srei Santhor district. The team recovered over 16 tonnes of UXO, including war materials, as well as human remains. They finally raised the hulls of the sunken warships in just six days of the operation.

After the operation was completed successfully, Hun Sen on January 26, 2021 decided to add some members of the team and continue with another operation in Lvea Em and Khsach Kandal districts of Kandal province and Peam Chor and Peamro districts of Prey Veng province.