NEWS ROUNDUP January 2015

2015 Jan

January 31, 2015
Laos: Thousands suffering from the deadly aftermath of US bomb campaign


“If I had arrived 15 minutes later at the hospital, I would have died. I underwent 12 blood transfusions in order to survive.” Sitting in the living room of her wooden stilt house, 39-year-old Buan Kham slowly lifted her skirt to expose what remains of her right leg, amputated at the knee. “If I hadn’t gone to the capital, Vientiane, I would have lost both,” she added, caressing the deep scars running along her left thigh.
Less than a year ago Kham, from the rural village of Na Dee, became one of the 20,000 victims of unexploded ordnance (UXO). The weapons are a lethal legacy of the Vietnam war, which turned this poor, landlocked south-east Asia nation of 6 million into the most bombed country per capita in the world.
More on this story at The Guardian and much more here on Eternal Harvest.

January 29, 2015
Afghans live in peril among unexploded Nato bombs that litter countryside


International troops pulling out of Afghanistan have left behind a lethal legacy of unexploded bombs and shells that are killing and maiming people at a rate of more than one a day. The vast majority are children.
Bombs dropped from the air coupled with munitions left behind in makeshift firing ranges in rural Afghanistan have made parts of the countryside perilous for locals who are used to working the land for subsistence and raw materials.
Since 2001, the coalition has dropped about 20,000 tonnes of ammunition over Afghanistan. Experts say about 10% of munitions do not detonate: some malfunction, others land on sandy ground. Foreign soldiers have also used valleys, fields and dry riverbeds as firing ranges and left them peppered with undetonated ammunition. Read more about this deadly legacy at The Guardian, The Russia Times, and News Everyday.

January 28, 2015
Minor Injured by Israeli UXO in Jordan Valley


Head of al-Maleh village council, Aref Daraghmeh, told WAFA correspondence that 15-year-old Ali Ilyan sustained injuries from the shrapnel of a remnant Israeli bomb, necessitating his transfer to hospital for treatment.
According to al-Monitor website, “The Israeli army holds periodic military exercises in the Jordan Valley involving the use of warplanes and live ammunition.”
It said that the number of those killed by Israel’s unexploded ordnance in the Jordan Valley has reached three since the beginning of 2014. More at The International Middle East Media Center.

January 27, 2015
Unexploded military ordnance detonates, critically injures two El Paso women


Unexploded military ordnance detonated Saturday afternoon near Chaparral, critically injuring two El Paso women who were looking for scrap metal, officials said.
The Otero County Sheriff’s Office said the ordnance went off about 1 p.m. near Landing Stripin Road just west of U.S. Highway 54.
The kind of ordnance that exploded was not identified. The rest of the story is at The Alamogordo Daily News and The El Paso Times.

January 27, 2015
UK offshore ‘underplays UXO risk’


Developers, utilities and asset owners are failing to take account of the risks posed by munitions moving from their recorded positions during the operation and maintenance phase of offshore wind projects, warns 6 Alpha Associates.
The consultancy said that prior to installation work, where there is a high risk of encountering unexploded ordnance (UXO), it is common to carry out a specialist geophysical survey to detect it.
However, the seabed is often littered with debris that can be mistaken for UXO and the cost of investigating each and every anomaly is prohibitively expensive. Any anomalies that turn out to be UXO and slip through the net may shift on the seabed due to wave and tidal processes and in some cases human activities, such as fishing. Read more on this hazard to offshore wind farms here at ReNews.

January 24, 2015
From the Front: Kuchis


Kuchis (koo-cheez) are Afghan nomads. Poorer and outcast, they are the bottom of the Afghan barrel. They do some pretty extreme stuff to survive.
When insurgents fire rockets at us (a daily event), some of them land outside our base without exploding. This creates an are of UXO (unexploded ordnance). A UXO area is a wasteland of explosives. We mark it with the bright orange streamers and cordon it off with razor wire.
Because the unexploded rockets are metal and metal has value, there is incentive to harvest the metal as scrap. Enter the Kuchis. If their trip into the UXO area goes well, they return with metal they can sell. If their trip doesn’t go well… You can read the rest of this short dispatch from Afghanistan at the Pryor Daily Times.

January 23, 2015
Army bomb squad disposes of Georgetown cannon ball


U.S. Army bomb squad Soldiers disposed of a cannon ball that was found in a Georgetown townhouse’s chimney here Jan. 21.
Soldiers from the 55th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company responded to the unexploded ordnance discovery at the 1890s townhouse in this historic neighbor in the nation’s capital. Read more here … and a more interesting read on the same topic from The Daily Mail.

January 12, 2015
Bullsbrook bushfire: wind change may push fire to high-fuel load area


A wind change could push a bushfire 40 kilometres north-east of Perth towards a high-fuel load area, authorities warn. The fire has been downgraded to a watch and act and is now contained and under control but authorities are warning the wind change could see it break containment lines.
Mr Gale said firefighters had focussed on area with unexploded ordnance (UXO) on Royal Australian Air Force land on Monday. Read more on fire and UXO in Australia at ABC.net.

January 11, 2015
Uxo Kills Three in East Jebel Marra, Thousands Without Aid in North Darfur


Three people were killed when unexploded ordnance detonated near Mashrou Abu Zeid in East Jebel Marra today. Thousands of newly displaced villagers from East Jebel Marra, who reached Shangil Tobaya and Tabit in Tawila locality, North Darfur, are living in the open, without water, food, or shelter. “At a distance of seven km east of Mashrou Abu Zeid, Abdelmalek Ishag Adam, Musa Yahya Yagoub, and Hawa Eisa were killed, as well as the donkeys they were riding,” a man from the group they were travelling with, told Dabanga.
“Suddenly we heard and felt a loud explosion, and saw them been torn to pieces,” he said. “It must have been a landmine, or an unexploded bomb, they stepped on.” Learn more at AllAfrica.com.

January 9, 2015
ANAMA neutralizes 76 UXOs in December


Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action has detected and neutralized 76 unexploded ordnance (UXO), as well as mines including 17 anti-personnel devices and one anti-tank mine during last December, ANAMA said.
Some 484 deminers and 118 support staff, six mechanical demining machines and 36 dogs involved in demining operations.
So far, the agency cleared over 278 million square meters from the UXOs and mines in the country, as well as detected and neutralized about 690 thousand unexploded mines and ammunition. The rest of the story is at AzerNews.

January 6, 2015
Afghanistan seeks NATO info on unexploded ordnance


Afghanistan has called on US-led foreign forces to hand over more information about their unexploded ordnance (UXO) across the war-torn country. Mohammad Sediq Rashid, the director of the Mine Action Coordination Center for Afghanistan (MACCA), said Tuesday that the information would save lives.
“They used weapons and they know that unexploded ordnance (UXO) will be left behind. This information is life-saving,” said Rashid.
Rashid added that Afghan authorities have raised the issue with NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF); but, so far, there has been no action. He warned that if the US-led forces do not provide Afghans with more required coordinates and locations, lots of people, especially children, will lose their lives. Read more about how wars don’t end when the fighting stops at PressTV.

January 6, 2015
Unexploded munitions a lingering peril as NATO ends Afghan war


The end of NATO’s combat mission in Afghanistan could be a watershed moment in tackling unexploded ordnance littering the country, but experts complain US-led forces need to hand over more information on where it all is.
Decades of conflict since the Soviet invasion in 1979 have left landmines, shells, bombs and rockets scattered across towns, villages and fields, even after extensive clearance efforts that have safely removed millions of items. More on the story over at The Daily Mail.

January 6, 2015
Vietnam War’s deadly legacy continues to haunt Laos


Laos is the most heavily bombed country per capita in history. The United States dropped around two million tonnes of bombs on the country from 600,000 bombing missions during the Vietnam War more than four decades ago.
But many of these bombs failed to detonate. And these unexploded ordnance continue to kill and maim as many as 100 people per year in Laos. Laos is labelled as the “most heavily bombed country, per capita, in the world” – with more bombs falling on it than Europe had during World War II. And by some estimates, up to 30 per cent of the explosives failed to detonate. More on the story both here at Eternal Harvest and over at ChannelNewsAsia.com.

January 5, 2015
JICA’s Efforts to Remove UXO in Cambodia and Laos


Landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) remain in the ground long after a conflict has come to a close, threatening the lives and wellbeing of people and impeding agricultural and economic development. The Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has provided aid in Cambodia for many years to remove landmines and is now drawing on this experience in developing similar programs in neighboring Laos. JICA has more on their work in SE Asia at their website.

NEWS ROUNDUP July 2014

July2014News

July 31, 2014
Boaters urged to exercise caution


Garrison Petawawa has deployed marker buoys, like this one, to warn boaters of prohibited areas on the Ottawa River (Canada). While beaches have been cleared of unexploded ordnance, officials warn of possible encounters with unexploded munitions not yet recovered.
Ottawa River beaches stretching along the garrison’s eastern border have been cleared, officials are reminding boaters of possible encounters with unexploded munitions. More in the (Ottawa) Daily Observer.

July 31, 2014
Concerns over a ‘ticking time bomb’ in estate

Fears have been raised over a ‘ticking time bomb’ hidden underground on a site proposed for 127 new homes. Residents have been left horrified after it was revealed there is a ‘risk’ of unexploded munitions on a former military site at Killingworth Moor (England).
Campaigners against plans for housing on the site have criticised developers Bellway Homes for continuing with the plans and not informing residents. An unexploded ordnance (UXO) report, produced by consultants as part of Bellway’s first phase for developing homes on the site, says all anomalies should be excavated and investigated. More at the News Guardian.

July 25, 2014
UXO kills one in Darfur’s East Jebel Marra

Sara Yagoub Eisa was killed by a detonating grenade in the area of Mashrou Abu Zeid, East Jebel Marra, on Tuesday afternoon.
One of her relatives told Radio Dabanga that when she was ploughing her farmland with her donkey, she hit a grenade. The bomb detonated, killing Eisa and the donkey instantly. Story from Radio Dabanga.

July 21, 2014
Cambodian Peacekeepers in Mali injured by UXO blast

Two Cambodian United Nations peacekeepers in Mali were injured after their car ran over an anti-personnel landmine on Friday.
Driver Sim Veoun’s leg was broken in the blast, while the other wounded peacekeeper, Chan Saveoun, was slightly injured, according to Ouk Bunthan, deputy director of the mines and explosive war remnants clearance department at the National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces. The Phnom Penh Post has the rest of the story.

July 18, 2014
Vietnamese teens find large cache of cluster bombs, rockets

Two Vietnamese teenagers led technicians to a large cache of unexploded ordnance buried in a coastal forest, a legacy from U.S. military intervention in the country. The boys reported their discovery after hearing the sounds of controlled detonations of old bombs made by technicians with Project Renew, an organization based in Vietnam’s Quang Tri Province. You can read more in Stars and Stripes.

July 18, 2014
Treasure hunter finds WWII ordnance on Tumon Bay (Guam)

Parts of Tumon Bay were evacuated this afternoon after one man’s hunt for treasure uncovered something more.
Thirty feet from the shore of Reef Hotel, a local man and his metal detector uncovered a reminder from the island’s past. “There was a person in the water with a metal detector and they found a five inch US naval projectile that’s armed,” Navy EOD Senior Chief Petty Officer Brian Fitzgerald. Just in time for Guam’s 70th Liberation Day celebrations, Senior Chief Fitzgerald says the projectile dates back to World War II. See more at KUAM News.

July 17, 2014
Congressman Honda Awarded For His Work on Unexploded Ordnance

Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA17) was honored Tuesday night by the not-for-profitorganization Legacies of War for his work in raising awareness about, and securing finds to remove, Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) in Laos. The award was presented at Legacies of War 10th Anniversary Event at the District Architecture Center in Washington, DC. Read more at Congressman Honda’s website.

July 16, 2014
Rocket goes off: Explosion in Pursat hurts eight people

An old rocket seriously injured at least eight people when it exploded in Pursat province yesterday, after a child found the missile and used it as a toy with a relative in his village.
Three women, three men and two children – all related – are being treated at the provincial hospital after the child took the unexploded ordnance (UXO) to the family’s Stung Thmey village home. More at The Phnom Penh Post.

July 11, 2014
Casualties from UXO accelerate in Cambodia

Casualties from mines and unexploded ordnance are on track to outpace last year’s count, according to new government data.
In the first five months of this year, 89 people were either killed or injured by the deadly remnants of war, Cambodian Mine Action Centre director-general Heng Ratana said yesterday. The centre’s tally for the whole of 2013 is 111. The Phnom Penh Post has more.

July 10, 2014
Vietnam War legacy lives on in unexploded bombs


A demining team carefully removed a pile of rusty explosives – each one still able to kill or maim – from a quiet ploughed field where fierce fighting once raged in the Vietnam War.
Shortly after the lethal mortars and grenade launcher rounds were taken away, an anxious farmer in her 50s marched over to the team during their recent mission.
The farmer, Van Thi Nga, stumbled across the relics while growing vegetables, the main source of income in her village that sits along the war’s former demarcation zone and is strewn with hidden explosives. More at Asian Correspondent.

July 8, 2014
When the idea of a bomb-free Laos became possible: An interview with Channapha Khamvongsa

It started with hand drawings from survivors. Black bombies littering the sky. Red markings everywhere. Farmers running across the green fields. These drawings would be the start of what would lead to learning about a lost history and one woman’s passion to advocate what many thought would be the impossible: a bomb-free Laos. Read more about Channapha Khamvongsa at the Twin Cities Daily Planet.

July 8, 2014
ANAMA to complete mine clearance operations along frontline within 3 years

Azerbaijan will complete mine and UXO clearing operations in the areas along frontline within 3 years, Director of Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA) Nazim Ismayilov told journalists, APA reports. You can read a little bit more at APA.
Ismayilov said that the Agency is carrying out operations in the liberated areas, as well as in the training ranges and military bases exploded by the Soviet Army.

July 7, 2014
‘South Kordofan littered with unexploded ordnance’: SPLM-N

The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) has warned for a catastrophe in South Kordofan, as the number of land mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) in the region has increased significantly during the past months of bombing and shelling by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF).
The SPLM-N governor of the areas under rebel control in South Kordofan, Simon Kalu, stressed in a statement on Saturday that the lives of thousands of civilians are in great danger if international organisations will not intervene and remove the UXO. “During the past few months, the Sudanese Air Force dropped hundreds of bombs on the region. Many of them did not explode.” More at the ever-busy Radio Dabanga.

July 7, 2014 Canada: Beware Of UXO – They’re Out There!

We recently acted for the owner/operator of a scrap yard, who decided to shut down its business after more than 50 years in operation and sell their property to a developer. As would be expected, the purchase agreement required the vendor to remove the scrap metal stored on the site prior to closing. On the day before closing, while the crane operator was picking up the remaining scrap at the far corner of the property and dumping it in a truck to be hauled away, he came upon what appeared to be a large cache of shells and other munitions. Read the rest of this UXO story from Canada at Mondaq.

July 2, 2014 Fungi farming brings safe money to bomb-addled Quang Tri

Ever since the war, Quang Tri Province’s poor have made a dangerous living selling the unexploded remains of the US’s mammoth bombing campaign, but a new program gives them a safer option – planting fungi. “Growing mushrooms suits the disabled victims of bombs – those with disabilities and poor health,” said Do Thien Dang who lost his legs in an accident caused by unexploded ordnance (UXO). See the rest of the story at Thanh Nien News.

Kitchen Bombs – Sabor

By Karen J. Coates / Photo by Jerry Redfern
March 2013
Sabor iPad Magazine

©2008/Jerry RedfernThe sharpest knives in my kitchen began their careers as bombs. They were packed onto U.S. planes and dropped over Laos in an air war that littered the ground with an estimated 900,000 tons of high-grade metal. The Laotian kitchen has never been the same since.

Neither has the farm.

All across the country, blacksmiths turn bits and bobs of old bombs into household tools: knives and hoes, buckets and bowls, machetes, feed troughs, ladders and planters. The sturdiest rice barns in Laos are built on stilts made from U.S. bomb casings. The soil yields endless fragments of material for gadgets, gizmos and props. Villagers attest: It’s state-of-the-art steel and aluminum that lasts long and works hard. “Bomb scrap is the best metal for knives,” according to an ethnic Hmong villager named Thong Van, who lives in the northern mountains.

The bombs fell between 1964 and 1973, in an offshoot of the Vietnam War, unknown to many. In those nine years, U.S. forces flew more than 580,000 sorties, in the equivalent of one raid every eight minutes. READ MORE (PDF)

One Man’s Bomb is Another’s Garden Hoe – GlobalPost

In Laos, villagers turn American war scrap into inventive tools.

By Karen J. Coates / Photo by Jerry Redfern
July 28, 2010
GlobalPost

For GlobalPostVIENTIANE, Laos — A scorching sun settled across southern Laos, as farmers burned the land to make new fields.

A woman hacked at weeds with two young children in tow, the heat of a nearby fire caking her in a sweaty, sooty film. She paused a moment, wiped her neck, then hoisted her hoe. Sitting behind her thatched hut was the casing of a 750-pound bomb made at Pine Bluff Arsenal, Arkansas. Its label was clear: “Special firework. Handle carefully. Keep fire away.”

Laotians everywhere continue to unearth American bombs, dropped nearly 40 years ago. Today, wartime remnants spark some of the country’s most creative construction and engineering. Villagers turn scrap into tools and utensils — everything from bowls to buckets, boats, spoons, knives, hoes, troughs, ladders, planters, cowbells, stilts and pedestals for satellite dishes. READ MORE

This Garden Is the Bomb

By Karen J. Coates / Photo by Jerry Redfern
June 15, 2010
The Faster Times

bombplanterendofhike-300x201It’s that glorious hour when the slanted rays of a setting sun dazzle the world. This stretch of road through rural Laos sees more chickens, pigs and cows than cars or people. It’s hot and dry, and the earth is scorched from months without rain.

I spot a little oasis of green—clumps of scallions, thick and tall, bedded in dark little goat pellets. A short woman with arms outstretched showers her garden with buckets of clear, clean water. The onions grow at eye level, perched across two tree trunks in a solid metal casing made from an American bomb. READ MORE

These Bowls – Rambling Spoon blog

By Karen J. Coates / Photo by Jerry Redfern
Sept. 4, 2007
Rambling Spoon

This photo for use on the website www.ramblingspoon.com ONLY All other uses prohibited DO NOT STEAL PHOTOSHave I told you about these bowls? I don’t think I have, althouth some of you may have heard me talk about them in another venue. The contents of these bowls are not so remarkable (though tasty—stir-fried tofu with miso, cabbage with ginger and garlic). What’s intriguing is the story of how these bowls came to be.

A simple story, really.

A tragic story.

We bought these bowls in Laos. They’re aluminum, handmade by a blacksmith. They came from a heap of war scrap. Most likely, before these bowls came to life as kitchenware, this metal was used in the fuel drop tank of a US bomber. READ MORE

Isaiah in Laos – Orion

By Karen J. Coates / Photo by Jerry Redfern
November/December 2005
Orion

Isaiah in LaosAn American bomb detonates on Laotian soil. Thirty years later, a villager exhumes the pieces and delivers them to a scrap metal yard. There they sit in a heap until Lee Moua, a Hmong man, plunks down a little money for a mangled chunk.

He takes the metal to his homemade blacksmith shop in a parched backyard among pineapples and sugarcane. He fires a bed of coals, working beneath a rusty roof on a bamboo frame. His bellows are made from a parachute flare canister, his anvil is an artillery shell driven into a stump. Moua heats and pounds his bomb fragment, toiling most of a sweltering afternoon.

When he finishes his work, he has a silvery object, straight from a blistering fire. Its blade is wicked sharp, capable of practical things. It is a simple creation really: a garden hoe. READ MORE (PDF)