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Bombie Blast Death Strikes Fear Among Luang Prabang Residents

Source: Vientiane Times

People in Luang Prabang province’s Nambak district are fearful after a local elderly resident, Mr Khamkeo Sorpaseuth, was killed when he accidentally unearthed a BLU26 bombie recently.

The 83-year-old Mr Khamkeo of Thalyneua village in the heart of Nambak district was killed when the unexploded device detonated while he was gardening in his backyard.

According to the Lao Unexploded Ordnance programme (UXO Lao), which interviewed Mr Khamkeo’s son Bounleuy, the accident occurred at around 10.40 am on September 21.

“My father was using a hoe and spade to dig up a banana tree so he could replant it in a different place. While he was digging, his hoe hit a bombie (BLU26), and shrapnel from the bomb hit his chest and face, and he died on the spot. Some things in the garden were also destroyed by the bombie,” Kamkeo’s son was quoted as saying by UXO Lao, which also stated that other people in the village are worried that a similar accident could befall them.

Director General of the National Regulatory Authority for the UXO/Mine Action Sector in Laos (NRA), Mr Chomyaeng Phengthongsavat, on September 24 led a delegation joined by Luang Prabang province Department of Labour and Social Welfare officials to visit the scene of the accident.

They gave Mr Khamkeo’s family 6.5 million kip in support, with another 500,000 kip provided by the department. Mr Chomyaeng said “Over two million tonnes of UXO were dropped on Laos during the second Indochina War between 1964 and 1973, and 30 percent of them failed to explode.”
Luang Prabang is one of the most UXO-contaminated provinces in Laos.

This hazard is an obstacle to the development of people’s livelihoods, especially agriculture and other activities.

Three large unexploded MK-250 type bombs, weighing approximately 250 lbs, were found in Luang Prabang province in 2017.

One of the bombs was found by a resident of Huay Lo village in Pak-Ou district, while the other two were found in Phonngam and Kokmuang villages in Luang Prabang district, about 35 kilometres from the provincial capital.

In Nambak district alone, five people have been killed by UXO over the past few years, and one this year. Twelve people have also been injured, many of whom were schoolchildren.  

A planned UXO survey and clearance will ensure that all UXO is destroyed in Thalyneua village.