Project Sekong 2014: People fear cluster bomblets but some self-appointed experts will attempt to harvest material from them.

February 26, 2014

BLU (Bomb Live Unit) 24. American made cluster bomblet---one of 280 million clusters dropped on Laos. Some self-appointed bomb experts will open this bomblet to harvest the explosive within.

The round, orange cluster bomblet we call the BLU-24 is favored by fisherman because it is more easily opened than other bomblets and holds enough explosive to fashion several fishing bombs from old food tins and small lengths of detonation cord. I’ve met fishermen who have boasted of the many fish their homemade bombs have stunned, and I’ve met widows of bomb fishermen who wish their late husbands had never plied the trade.

The BLU 26 contains nearly 300 steel ball bearings. After a demolition villagers often search the soil to collect the bearings to use as birdshot.

For the most part, people leave the BLU-26 alone. That bomblet is the item we find more frequently than all other devices combined. Villagers know to not tamper with this “bombie” when found whole. But, if they encounter an old 26 already cracked in half they might harvest any remaining explosive from the casings, usually to use as a fire starter or fishing bomb. Or, perhaps, to blast stumps from the ground. Then they will pound the empty halves to free the 300 steel ball bearings embedded within the casing with the intention of using the pea-sized steel balls as birdshot.

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