A Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) team is conducting an operation to retrieve unexploded ordnance (UXO) from a sunken warship in the Mekong River in Prey Veng province.
The team is currently recovering between 10 and 20 explosive items a day from the wreck, according to CMAC director-general Heng Ratana.
Ratana said on May 23 that operations to remove explosives from ships that were sunk between 1970 and 1975 are expected to remain ongoing, as the government has declared its intention to ensure that the entire Kingdom will be declared safe from explosive remnants of war (ERW), whether on land or water. The removal of UXO units from the nation’s waterways has been carried out in total safety, he added.
Recovery operations from shipwrecks are more complex than on land because parts of the vessels are often below the waterline. Additionally, sand and silt often builds up and covers the UXOs, meaning that they need to be carefully exposed and examined. It can take up to eight months to clear one wrecked vessel, he added.
After retrieval work at the current site – in Meam Raing village and commune of Peam Chor district – the specialist team would move to a new site which had already been identified in Kandal province.
“The retrieval of UXO units on land and in water is a direct instruction from Prime Minister Hun Sen … for the purpose of developing the country and ensuring safety and security for the people,” he said.
According to Ratana, CMAC specialists had taken the first steps towards neutralising an AN-M66 aerial bomb which was discovered at the bottom of the Mekong early this month. They expected to neutralise the almost 1,000kg bomb by the end of the week.
Separately, another team removed an MK 82 bomb weighing some 230kg from Rolaing Ken commune of Kandal province’s Kandal Stung district on May 20. The team disposed of it safely.