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UXO – An Added Complication From The Great Attapeu Flood

Source: Vientiane Times

A UXO Lao team working in Attapeu province hopes to finish clearing explosive devices from land allocated for new housing for flood victims in Sanamxay district next month.

One of the sites has now been decontaminated, with technicians removing and destroying 14 cluster bombs.

Temporary houses for people who have been displaced by the floods are being built in Dongbak, Hadyao, Donbok, Pindong and Tamoyoth villages.

Permanent houses will be built in Dongbak, Donbok, Tamoyoth and Pindong villages, along with essential infrastructure.

Since August 11, a total of 110 officials working in 11 teams and using a full range of equipment from UXO Lao have removed unexploded ordnance from over five hectares in Dongbak village.

A UXO staffer in charge of the operation, Mr Soukkasane Viengkham, told Vientiane Times “Authorities are using a helicopter to survey land in Tamoyoth, Pindong and Donbok villages because the UXO team and their equipment can’t reach these places by road as they are cut off by flooding.”

“Now work crews are speeding up the repair of roads and bridges to access these areas and we expect to start UXO clearance next month in Tamoyoth, Pindong and Donbok villages. We will clear UXO from 4-5 hectares at each site.”

“The UXO clearance operation is essential before workers can start to build houses and we hope to complete it soon,” Mr Soukkasane added.

During the Indochina War from 1964-1975, Attapeu was one of the most heavily bombed provinces in the country. All of its five districts including Sanamxay had bombs dropped on them.

UXO officials said that although several parcels of land had been declared UXO-free in Sanamxay district, it was essential to carry out re-survey and re-clearance operations to minimise the risk to people in the 13 flood-affected villages.