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Three Killed, Two Injured In UXO Explosion

Source: Vientiane Times

Three men working as part of a survey team with UXO Lao were killed instantly and two others were injured when searching for unexploded ordnance on a coffee plantation in Pakxong district, Champassak province, on Friday.

An official with the Lao National Unexploded Ordnance Programme (UXO Lao) told Vientiane Times the tragic accident occurred at about 9:30am as team members were undertaking routine survey and clearance operations.

The UXO Lao unit in Champassak is conducting an enquiry into the incident, he said. One of the two survivors is in critical condition.

As part of its mission, UXO Lao is carrying out UXO risk education in target provinces, with a special focus on children, aiming to reduce the number of UXO-related accidents and victims.

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The Mine Risk Educate programme provides knowledge, understanding and awareness among educators at every level, including schoolteachers, about UXO safety.

It enables trainers and teachers to be better equipped to inform children about safety and awareness with regard to unexploded ordnance.

The main purpose of the initiative is to reduce the number of deaths and injuries due to UXO accidents through a national programme of mine risk education for schoolchildren.

More than 1.6 million unexploded ordnance (UXO) items were destroyed by clearance teams in Laos from 1996 to December 31, 2020, while over 70,000 hectares of land were cleared of munitions, according to the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare.

UXO operators destroyed 1,636,590 devices from 1996 to the end of 2020, the ministry said.

Of these, 923,895 items were cluster munitions, 4,209 were large bombs, 2,337 were landmines, and 706,149 were other devices.