Project Sekong 2013: If We Find Casings We Will Likely Find Cluster Bomblets

March 28, 2013

There are different ways to distribute cluster munitions but, essentially, they all involve a “mother” bomb that explodes in the air over a target area, releasing numerous, smaller, sub-munitions, sometimes called cluster bomblets. The bomblets fall to earth, detonate, and scatter shrapnel over a wide area. In some instances the bomblets do not explode because they are armed with timing devices set to detonate later. Or, like landmines, they may be fitted with sensitive fuses that detonate if the bomblet is disturbed.

Pictured above are casings that once contained a sub munition called the BLU26. Each pair of pictured casings constituted a unit that held up to 670 bomblets. Upon impact each bomblet exploded and dispersed 300 steel ball bearings. After opening in the air and releasing the sub munitions the casings simply fell to earth usually landing within the target area.

For over forty years, villagers have been finding random halves canisters and recycling them. They may sell them for their scrap value or, more likely, put them to good use around the house and farm. We commonly find them used as feed troughs, flower beds or bar-b-que pits. Because rodents cannot easily climb the canisters, they are often used as support posts for elevated rice huts. Pictured above, a villager has collected many of the canisters and has used them as a fence around his house.

When we encounter am abundance of empty canisters we know that there is a high likelihood that we will find unexploded bomblets in the same area.

During nine years of continuous bombing, between 1964 and 1973, the US dropped over 280 million cluster bomblets on Laos. Between ten and thirty percent of the bomblets failed to explode on impact. Today, more than 70 million unexploded bomblets remain on or in the soil.

One Response to “ Project Sekong 2013: If We Find Casings We Will Likely Find Cluster Bomblets ”

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