VIENTIANE, March 16 (Xinhua) -- The Lao National Unexploded Ordnance Program (UXO Lao) has detonated a 500-pound (227-kg) bomb left over from the war in Namxuan village of Phouvong district in southern Attapeu province.
"The bomb disposal operation was carried out after receiving a report from Namxuan village authorities." said Deputy Coordinator of the UXO Clearance Project in Attapeu province Xaysetha Phosalath.
The provincial UXO clearance team assigned a technical team to survey the site and gather information to assess the potential danger, according to the Lao National Radio report on Tuesday.
In the case of the big bomb, three teams of operatives were formed, consisting of 27 people. They used 9,000 sacks which they placed around the bomb down to a depth of 2 meters, digging a hole more than 1 meter wide. Safety was ensured and team members posted at 10 locations in a circle around the site.
Laos is heavily affected by unexploded ordnance. Of the estimated 270 million cluster munitions dropped on Laos during the Indochina War, about 30 percent failed to explode. But only 1 percent of these devices has been removed since 1996. UXO clearance is difficult because most cluster munitions were dropped in mountainous areas, rivers and forests.
However, bomb disposal units are working with ministries, other bodies and local authorities to set priority areas for clearance, especially land that can be used for development purposes as well as residential areas.
UXO clearance is underway in the provinces of Huaphan, Luang Prabang, Xieng Khuang, Khammuan, Savannakhet, Saravan, Champasak, Sekong and Attapeu. Clearance operations aim to free up land for activities that will enhance the well-being and livelihoods of impoverished rural communities. ■