The presence of unexploded ordnance (UXO) continues to have a major impact on the lives of rural people, including their ability to grow crops, with Bualapha district in Khammuan province being one such area.
District Governor Mr. Khamphao Thongthephahack said Bualapha district was more heavily contaminated with UXO than other districts in the province.
To combat the problem, local authorities and their partners including UXO Lao and MAG are circulating information about UXO and warning people who live in at-risk areas to be especially careful and not to enter areas that officials have advised are unsafe.
So far this year, UXO-related accidents have killed five people and injured another person in Bualapha district.
Mr. Khamphao said four people were killed in accidents that occurred on September 17 and 18.
The first accident occurred in Thong village on September 17 when two men aged 29 and 25 were killed when they went to cut some trees to build their houses. While removing some wood that was lying on the ground they disturbed a device underneath which explod ed and killed them on the spot.
Tragedy struck again the following day in Nongbua village when two brothers aged 10 and 9 struck an unexploded device as they were digging for crickets, and also died.
Another 10-year-old boy was injured by the explosion and is being treated in hospital in Yommalath district. The National Regulatory Authority for the UXO/Mine Action Sector (NRA) and World Education will provide his family with financial support.
Earlier in the year, another UXO-related accident killed a person in Chalaed village. Most accidents occur near the border with Vietnam.
UXO Lao, MAG and their partners have surveyed these areas to check for the presence of more cluster munitions, but the authorities could not say that all unexploded ordnance would be cleared, Mr. Khamphao said.
According to the NRA, from 2008-2015, a total of 86 people in Khammuan province have suffered the effects of UXO, with 60 being injured and 26 killed.
Over the years, thousands of Lao people have been killed or injured, usually farmers tending their fields and children playing.
From 1964-1973, the US dropped more than 2 million tonnes of bombs on Laos, more than was dropped during World War II.
About 580,000 secret bombing missions were carried out over Laos. A quarter of all villages are contaminated with UXO, the impact of which is particularly visible in the poorest districts.
The United States recently announced it would provide an additional US$90 million over the next three years to help Laos clear unexploded ordnance.
Source: Vientiane Times