NEWS ROUNDUP September 2014

Sept2014News

30 September, 2014
Let’s not rely on luck when it comes to unexploded bombs


Last month, a 36kg unexploded bomb was discovered in North Point, left by the Japanese at the end of the second world war. The police used 100 sandbags to effect a controlled explosion. Nevertheless, debris was flung 100 metres and it created a three-metre-deep crater. In February, a 900kg American bomb discovered in Happy Valley was successfully defused by the police.
Hong Kong’s struggle in the second world war involved the use of ordnance – aircraft bombs, artillery, grenades and other types of ammunition – manufactured by the British, Japanese, Americans and Chinese. After the war, one of the first jobs for the British on returning to Hong Kong was to clear the harbour of the 50-odd shipwrecks. Resources were not available for a general clearance of unexploded ordnance (UXO) and the efforts made at that time were less than optimal. Read more about Hong Kong’s WWII-era bomb problem at the South China Morning Post.

26 September, 2014
1,000-pound bomb safely detonated in Quang Tri

Exploded Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams from Peace Trees Viet Nam (PTVN) detonated and removed a 1,000-pound (450kg) bomb in the central Quang Tri Province yesterday.
Pham Thi Hoang Ha of PTVN, a non-government organisation that has been searching for unexploded ordnance in Quang Tri since 1995, said the 1.8-metre-long, 35.6-centimentre-diameter bomb, which was classified as an MK83, is believed to have been left behind after the American war. More here.

25 September, 2014
500-kg bomb exposed on riverbank in northern Vietnam

A 500-kg bomb has emerged from the bank of a river in the northern Vietnamese province of Quang Tri after continuous rains in the area, local authorities reported Wednesday.
While patrolling along the bank of the Se Pon River yesterday, border guards found the unexploded ordnance (UXO) lying on the ground nearby, said the Tam Thanh border gate station in Thanh commune, Huong Hoa District. More at Tuoi Tre News.

19 September, 2014
Finding Unexploded Ordnance on the Reef or On Your Way to Work

Sal was walking in to work today when he noticed an encrusted mortar shell lying by the side of the path. Being obviously more aware of his surroundings than I am in the morning, he pulled up short. “How in the heck did that get there?” was his first thought, followed by, “That should NOT be there.”
He did not touch it or move it. He called Jim, our facilities manager, the police came, followed by an EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) team. When I walked up, there was a 50 meter perimeter already set up. You can read the rest at Science Island (Hawaii).

September 19, 2014
UXO Drone to find UXO in Laos

Ryan Baker says that Laos is, per capita, the most heavily bombed nation in the world. During the Vietnam war the US flew more than half a million bombing missions and delivered more than two million tons of explosive ordnance.
Baker’s solution is to use his company’s drones to search for these UXOs without putting the drone operators in danger. Arch Aerial is running a Kickstarter campaign to get development funding for a proposed Arch Aerial UXO Drone. See more here and at Kickstarter. (Editor’s note: This is so unlikely on so many levels, but is interesting nonetheless)

September 19, 2014
ANAMA completes mine/UXO clearance operations in Gabala radar station

36 anti-tank, 16 antipersonnel mines and one UXO were found during the operations.
Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA) has completed the mine/UXO clearance operations in the territory of Gabala radar station, chief operation manager of ANAMA Samir Poladov told APA. Read more at News.AZ

September 18, 2014
War to Peace – An American 
veteran returns to Vietnam to help make it safer for 
his former enemy

Nearly 40 years on, Chuck Searcy is still fighting the Vietnam War—but now for the other side. It’s a September morning and Searcy, a 69-year-old veteran, is overseeing a team of Vietnamese about to blow up a bomb discovered in a village in the central coastal province of Quang Tri. Because of its proximity to the old DMZ between what was once North and South Vietnam, Quang Tri was subject to relentless bombing by U.S. warships and planes. As a result, the area is infested with unexploded ordnance. You can see the rest at TIME.

September 11, 2014
Suspected unexploded ordnance found near grounded vessel

THE salvage operations to remove the container ship MV Paul Russ from the reef in the Saipan Harbor ran into another roadblock yesterday with the discovery of what appears to be unexploded ordnance.
According to a release issued by Lt. William White of the U.S. Coast Guard, “While conducting dive operations, divers discovered what appears to be unexploded ordnance behind and next to the grounded vessel. All response operations in the vicinity of the vessel have been suspended until the U.S. Navy Explosives Ordnance Division (USN EOD) can assess and safely remove the items.”
More to be read at Marianas Variety.

September 2, 2014
Lao villager’s favorite pastime: detonate unexploded U.S. bombs

While most residents at Vilabouly village in Savannakhet province in Laos are engaged in farming and fishing, Wan’s favorite pastime is defusing bombs left by the Americans during the Indochina war.
Recently Wan defused a 1,000 kilogram U.S. bomb after European experts decided that defusing the unexploded ordnance (UXO) would prove to be too dangerous.
The Shanghai Daily has more of this very curious story.

September 3, 2014
Gwynt y Môr bomb sweep completed

Consultant engineering outfit 6 Alpha Associates has carried out a five-month unexploded ordnance (UXO) project to pave the way for cable installation at RWE’s 576MW Gwynt y Môr wind farm.
The risk management work at the 160-turbine wind farm, in 12–33 metres of water in Liverpool Bay, off the Welsh coast, is final confirmation that the threat to cable installation from UXOs has been reduced to “as low as is reasonably practicable”. More at Recharge News.

NEWS ROUNDUP December 2013

Dec2013News

12/13/13

Kids Mistake Cluster Munition for Petanque Ball 

As reposted on the Legacies of War Facebook Page: Two children were killed in Saravanne Province on December 13. “Local authorities said that the explosion occurred when the boys used a device they found in the forest as a boule in a game of petanque.” Link to original article here.

 12/03/13
Canada Committee Passes Amended Cluster Munition Bill

After much debate, Canada’s Commons foreign affairs committee removed one word from the bill to ratify the country’s participation in a ban on cluster munitions, according to iPolitics. The contested bill would allow Canadian forces to help allies in using cluster munitions while on joint operations with countries that haven’t signed the ban – notably the United States. Read more here.

12/03/13
Cluster Bomb Ban Saves Thousands of Lives, Coalition Says

Five years ago today, the Convention on Cluster Munitions was signed in Oslo, setting the path toward a global ban on “bombies.” More than half the world’s countries have since joined (the United States has not). The ban prohibits the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of these weapons, which pose some of the greatest threats to post-war societies where they were used. There are many varieties of cluster bombs. One of the most common designs used in Laos was a large casing filled with hundreds of baseball-sized bombies. The casing opened in mid-air and the bombies scattered across the land. Millions remain in the soil today. They look like toys or rocks. They can blow when struck with a farmer’s hoe. A single bombie can kill anything within 30 meters. For more information on what’s happened since the Convention was signed, read today’s report from the Cluster Munition Coalition.

 

 

 

From the Book – Meeting Bich, 10, UXO Accident Survivor

Bich in the Hospital
Bich in the hospital, for the second time

UXO accidents have killed and injured more than 20,000 Laotians since the end of war in 1975. This is an excerpt from the book Eternal Harvest

————-

We meet a young boy named Bich in the Phonsavanh hospital. Part of his face is blasted off, and his arm is fractured.

“He went to plow the field and he hit something. We don’t know what,” his mother, Man, tells us in tears. “I heard the explosion and some people came to get me.”

She knew about UXO, about the dangers in the dirt, but what can her family do? They have to grow food. She has seven children to feed. “I worry about the others. It’s very difficult because we cannot see the UXO,” she says.

Bombs hide in the earth that people tread and dig and plant and reap every year. Some weeks, a nurse tells us, the hospital gets two or three UXO victims; other weeks, it gets none. Most victims who come to the hospital survive. But many never make it that far. They die at home or in the field or forest where the accident occurs.

Bich’s story is hardly unusual, but it is not widely known in the country that likely made the bomb that hurt him. To this day, Laotians continue to die while playing in their yards, plowing their fields, tending their cattle. As villagers clear new land for planting, buried bombs explode. When farmers light their fields afire, shrapnel sometimes rains upon nearby roofs. At times, Laos still sounds like a country at war. This story has an even bleaker side.

As the global price of metal creeps upward, villagers gamble their lives on the chance to unearth valuable scrap. This is a country in which most people earn just a few dollars a day. And most people farm. But in some parts of Laos, the earth holds a profitable crop, sown long ago in war. While some dig with hopes of making money, others dig with hopes of securing safer land. Every day, bomb disposal teams scour the terrain, staking rows of string to the ground and slowly walking the grid with metal detectors. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth—it’s a meticulous job that can take days, even weeks, to cover an acre.

At any given time, twelve companies and humanitarian organizations have teams in the field, scattered across the country, looking for bombs. When a technician gets a signal, the spot is marked and later investigated by hand. Someone has to dig down and backward, slowly inching toward the source of the signal without making any sudden, harsh moves that could jolt a piece of ordnance and cause it to explode. Most signals end with a rusty nail or a twisted piece of bomb casing. But sometimes the team unearths a bomb, still armed, still ready to blow.

It could take decades, even centuries, to clear all the munitions. That is life. That is history—of the United States, of Laos, of the never-ending war between the two.

NEWS ROUNDUP October 2013

October201310/11/13
Ambassador Who Oversaw Bombing Dies

From the New York Times: “William H. Sullivan, a career diplomat who spent much of the 1960s and 1970s in volatile parts of the world — notably Laos, where he oversaw a secret bombing campaign, and Iran, where he was the last United States ambassador before militants took embassy employees hostage in November 1979 — died on Oct. 11 in Washington. He was 90.” See the full story here.

 

 

 

NEWS ROUNDUP September 2013

September2013

9/28/13
UXO Accident

“On September 28, 2013, in Sepon District of Savannakhet, a 55-year old man was working in the field and started a fire to keep warm when a blast went off. The fire had unearthed a UXO, which exploded causing injury to his body and tore off his right wrist. He was initially treated at his village and was transferred to a provincial hospital, where he continues to receive medical care and follow up services.” – Via Legacies of War.