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Chemical bomb disposal underway

Ven Rathavong / Khmer Times Share:
Chemical bomb experts investigate a bomb site. Supplied

The National Authority of Chemical Weapons and the Cambodian Mine Action Centre will soon commence operations to dispose of chemical bombs discovered in Svay Rieng province’s Korki commune.

Lieutenant General Ke Da, deputy secretary-general of NACW, said that experts will cooperate with CMAC to dispose of the chemical bombs soon.

“We will dispose of and collect the chemical bombs which are nearby villagers’ homes,” he said, noting that multiple sites are still being examined before further disposal operations begin.

In October, authorities disposed of chemical bombs found at a pagoda and school in Korki commune, and more sites still have to be cleared, he noted.

More than 1,000 villagers were evacuated from the area and given shelter about one kilometre away before work on removing the bombs started at the school and pagoda.

During that time, eight villagers in the commune were sent to hospital after being exposed to chemical bombs.

In February, nine more villagers were sent for medical treatment after being exposed to a chemical bomb dropped by the United States during the Vietnam War in Korki commune.

Lt Gen Da said there are more than 40 chemical bomb sites in Korki and other communes in Svay Rieng’s Romeas Hek district.

Commune clerk Kim Thoeun applauded the disposal operation.

“They marked the bomb sites in Prekdey and Ta Vaing villages where the villagers were exposed,” he said. “We are happy for the operation so we don’t live in fear anymore.”

Last year, more than 100 villagers in Svay Rieng province were found to be suffering from the effects of chemical bombs and sent to hospital for treatment.

Most had skin and respiratory complaints, while some babies have been born with abnormalities thought to be linked to bomb exposure.

In December, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague came to Cambodia to assist in chemical bomb clearance following the government’s request.

They inspected all chemical bomb sites in Tbong Khmum, Svay Rieng and Mondulkiri provinces and later confirmed the barrel bombs were chemical weapons.

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