Two war era bombs found in Vientiane
Local residents of the capital have reported to authorities that they recently uncovered two unexploded ordnances on the Mekong riverbank in Arkard village, Sikhottabong district, Vientiane.
Two unexploded ordnances found at the Mekong river embankment in Arkard village, Sikhottabong district, Vientiane.
Mr Khamphanh, a resident of the village, told authorities that he went fishing with his friends a few weeks ago and found two bombs, which were unexploded ordnances, under a rock on the Mekong embankment in the village.
However they did not immediately report the discovery to village authorities.
“I then forget to tell the village officials about this, until last Wednesday when I found the same bombs under the rock again,” Mr Khamphanh said.
“They were in the same place I saw them a few weeks ago. They were near the embankment where people had been walking past without knowing what they were.”
He worried they were dangerous and tried to bring them to a safe place on the embankment and put something there to mark them and indicate that they are potentially dangerous.”
“I will report this to the village authorities to prevent any danger to the people in the area,” Mr Khamphanh said.
“Honestly, we are fisherman in this village and going up and down the embankment almost every day but we have never seen bombs like that. We still wonder where they are from and how they came to be under the rock.”
Deputy Director General of the National Regulatory Authority (NRA) for the UXO/Mine Action Sector in Laos, Mr Bounpheng Sisawath said that the authorities need to fill out the required paperwork with the NRA, which will then send a team to check on them.
It seems that their safe disposal will take some time as the NRA requires the paperwork from the village authorities before dispatching a team to the site.
However, the village authorities should do something to secure the site in order to keep residents and passersby out of harm's way.
According to a previous Vientiane Times report in November last year, Laos has worked with international organisations to clear UXO from 2,147 hectares of land, of which 93 percent is needed for farming and 7 percent for development purposes.
Some 84,402 cluster munitions have been cleared, including 68,639 bombies and other items. On average, 21 bombies per hectare have been found.
UXO Lao's target is to remove UXO from 3,200 hectares of land in the provinces of Huaphan, Luang Prabang, Xieng Khuang, Khammuan, Savannakhet, Saravan, Xekong, Attapeu and Champassak.
During the Indochina War from 1964-73, some 3 million tonnes of UXO were dropped on Laos, including about 270 million sub-munitions from cluster bombs and about 4 million aircraft bombs.
Tests in the United States have found that cluster munitions have a failure rate of up to 30 percent, meaning a large amount of unexploded devices still remain in Laos.
A total of 87,000 square kilometres of land are thought to be contaminated with UXO.
By Souknilundon Southivongnorath
(Latest Update January 25, 2017)