16th January 2019: in the village of Nonsomboun in Savannakhet Province, Laos, all is peaceful. Local women are at work weaving cloth, their children swing in a hammock nearby.
HALO respond as soon as the bomb is found. We set to work to evacuate the villagers. For 12 long days no one can approach the bomb—a safety measure to ensure if the fuze has been triggered and the bomb explodes, nobody will be hurt.
We begin to plan how to destroy the bomb and keep Nonsomboun safe.
It’s too dangerous to move. The only option is to detonate it where it was found
The amount of explosive it contains is so powerful that we need to build a sandbag wall to protect the village and construct trenches to direct the shockwaves away from families’ homes.
It’s an intense and difficult process.
For 53 days we work together with the villagers, local companies and the Laos Authorities to build a 5 metres, 360-degree wall around the bomb.
But on day 53, the bomb is finally ready to be destroyed.
It is the 15th March 2019.
Programme manager, Fiona Kilpatrick, crawls through the hot, narrow, 30-metres-long ventilation tube to lay the explosive charges before retreating to the firing point.
The countdown begins.
An explosion echoes through the village.
But thanks to our careful preparatory work, people’s homes and livelihoods remain untouched by the blast.
The bomb has gone for good and the people of Nonsomboun can continue to live in peace.