The day we found a bomb...
Two weeks ago, while we were locking up the office, a tuktuk driver waiting in our driveway saw something half-buried in the dirt. By the time we made it to the driveway, the tuktuk driver had completely dug up and was now holding a circular, metal object.As we were walking toward him he calmly stated: "I think this is a bomb".
We STRONGLY discourage anyone touching anything that resembles a bomb. We did not hold it and asked the tuktuk driver to put it back carefully and step away.
For bomb or explosive related assistance in Siem Reap, Cambodia please call CMAC at 0975759666.
We froze and at first didn't believe it was possible. How could a bomb be sticking out of the driveway we are constantly going in and out of?Once the bomb was placed in a patch of dirt, off the road, we alerted The Cambodian Mine Action Centre and The Landmine Museum to ask for help getting rid of the bomb and advice about what to do in the meantime.The Cambodian Mine Action Centre was quick to respond and sent out three employees to survey the land and collect the bomb.After examining the bomb, they told us that it was still dangerous and could have exploded.Before removing the bomb, one of the workers put on something that resembled a bullet proof vest and filled it with sand from a nearby construction site.
Once removed, our program officer, Sreymom filled out paperwork with CMAC.
"Cambodia is one of the most heavily mined areas in the world; some estimates run as high as ten million mines (in a country of 11.5 million people), though the Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) estimates 4 to 6 million mines. Cambodia is also littered with other kinds of unexploded ordinance (UXO), left over from half a million tons of bombs dropped on Cambodia by the United States in the late 60s and early 70s. The figures here are not known, though there is an estimated "dud" rate of 10 percent for UXO (Cambodia Daily website). There are many different kinds of bombs and mines: US material from the "Vietnam" war era, and Chinese, Soviet and eastern block made materials left from the Khmer Rouge era in the 1970s and a decade of civil war that followed in the 1980s."-SEA Site about Landmines in Cambodia
Fortunately we were able to ask CMAC safety questions about the area and what we can do to protect our staff and neighbors. They went on to explain that the bomb was likely inadvertently brought to our street while the roads were being fixed after the recent floods. Although it makes us feel a little better knowing the bomb wasn't planted in that exact spot or had been there long, it was still extremely frightening to hear how common it is for bombs to be found throughout the province.Although we hoped to have the entire street swept by professionals, they said it was unrealistic and couldn't be done due to the number of bombs found in the province and because the approval process involves many government agencies and could take many, many months.Luckily, The Cambodian Landmine Museum has offered to conduct a Mine Risk Education Class for our staff and neighbors. The class will provide an overview of what potentially dangerous explosives look like and what to do if you find one. The most important thing we have learned and want to spread to everyone around Cambodia is to NEVER TOUCH a suspicious object.This event was certainly an eye opening experience for Free To Shine. As described in many other posts, Cambodia's history is extremely complicated and unfortunately the country has gone through many violent and dangerous times. With all of these factors in mind, and now a face-to-face experience with Cambodia's violent past, we are even more passionate about providing the best support and protection possible.Thanks for following along!To learn more about The Cambodian Mine Action Centre visit their website hereor visit The Cambodian Landmine Museum website here