Four people have died and 11people have been injured in UXO-related accidents from January to October 2016, according to a report from the Lao National Unexploded Ordnance Programme (UXO Lao).
The report was disclosed on Friday at UXO Lao’s annual meeting to summarise their work over the past year and plan for the year ahead.
The meeting was attended by Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Dr Khampheng Saysompheng, UXO Lao Director Mr Thipphasone Soukhathammavong, and other officials.
An official from UXO Lao said that from January to October of this year there had been seven UXO-related accidents in which 11 people sustained injuries and four people died.
Three of the accidents occurred in Xieng Khuang province where two people sustained injuries and one was killed.
Another incident in Savannakhet province saw two people sustain injuries.
In Attapeu province, an explosion resulted in five people being injured and one being killed.
An accident in Khammuan province injured one person and killed two, while in Champassak province an explosion injured one person.
Explosions typically occur during the transport, dismantling or burning of UXO, or while villagers are working in their fields.
U XO Lao has worked with international organisations to clear UXO from 2,147 hectares of land, of which 93 percent is needed for farming and 7 percent for development purposes.
Some 84,402 cluster munitions were cleared, including 68,639 bombies and other items. On average, 21 bombies per hectare have been found.
UXO Lao’s target is to remove UXO from 3,200 hectares of land in the provinces of Huaphan, Luang Prabang, Xieng Khuang, Khammuan, Savannakhet, Saravan, Xekong, Attapeu and Champassak.
Addressing the meeting, Dr Khampheng said UXO Lao’s goal is to reduce the number of casualties and provide assistance to the survivors of UXO-related accidents.
During the Indochina War from 1964-73 some 3 million tonnes of UXO were dropped o n Laos, including about 270 million sub-munitions from cluster bombs and about 4 million aircraft bombs.
Tests in the United States have found that cluster munitions have a failure rate of up to 30 percent, meaning a large amount of unexploded devices still remain in Laos.
A total of 87,000 square kilometres of land are thought to be contaminated with UXO.
Source: Vientiane Times