Laos: Unexploded Ordnance


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UXO Lao deminers filling out a medical survey before starting work.


Female deminers discussing their assignments and swapping stories before heading out to the fields.


Moving out to the fields.


The team is setting up operations and equipment. They have been here a week and cleared about half the designated area.


Metal detectors being calibrated in a safe zone. This will ensure the that the depth of the search is accurate.


First pass of the loop detector to mark any noticable metal objects in the ground.


Each of these sandbags covers an unearthed explosive. The munitions are highly unstable and have to be destroyed in situ.


Deminers laying out wires for the electric detonator. About 30 bombs are be rigged with 100 gr. of TNT each.


A female deminer communicating over radio before a detonation.


The explosives are covered by sandbags to minimize the blast and scatter of fragments, and to minimize accidental access by animals or children during the night.


All deminers have left the field to wait for the detonation before resuming their work. Medical personnel and translator are standing by in the hot morning sun.


Final preparations for the blast. The electronic detonator is hooked up and the TNT is live.


Updating the maps of cleared land, as well as documented found and destroyed munitions.


A roving team is noting down positions of detected munitions in the field.


Between blasts, deminers try to find a bit of rest in the only shade available in the harsh Lao heat.


A detonation of 11 submunitions and other surface weapons. Note the farmland and populated huts had to be evacuated, yet the cow wouldn't move.


A surfaced clustersubmunition "in the flesh". They are about the size of a tennis ball, and can easily kill or severely maim a person.


A deminer double-checking market sites. After detection each detected signal has to be dug up by hand.


A deminer digging up detected metal. This is very dangerous work, as inadvertently touching the munition could set it off. Often they dig in vain though: buried old helmets, cooking utensils, barbed wire and such give many false alarms.


The warehouse where disabled munitions are stored before safe detonation.


Artillery shells are moved from the warehouse to a safe location for destruction. In the watercontainer in the back, chemical bombs are kept (ie. phosphorous bombs).