RENEW Deminer Dies From Injuries After Cluster Bomb Accident

 

Thursday, 19 May 2016

This is the moment that I have feared for 15 years, since Project RENEW was launched in 2001.

Yesterday Ngo Thien Khiet was killed by a cluster munition at a field site in Quang Tri Province, near the former DMZ.  The 45-year-old deminer, a senior technician with eight years’ experience, was directing his team members in an area where several cluster bombs had been found and marked for destruction.

RENEW’s explosive ordnance disposal specialists and clearance technicians are highly trained, and professional.  Safety is their top priority.  Their efforts have resulted in the destruction of more than 30,000 bombs and other munitions over the years, without a single accident, injury, or death.

Until yesterday.

The RENEW staff, colleagues from Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) and other NGOs, provincial officials and of course friends and family of Khiet are grieving this loss of a dear friend and colleague, a patriot who sacrificed his life in peacetime to dismantle the instruments of death left behind in wartime.

Chuck Searcy

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ngothienkhiet

Ngô Thiện Khiết

Mine Action ALERT

RENEW Deminer Dies From Injuries After Cluster Bomb Accident

19 May 2016

A cluster bomb explosion in Quang Tri Province has killed one deminer and injured another, both technical staff managed by Project RENEW and Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA).  The accident occurred on Wednesday, 18 May, in Co Luy Village of Hai Ba Commune, Hai Lang District.

Team Leader Ngo Thien Khiet, age 45 and one of Project RENEW’s most experienced and senior technicians, was fatally injured in the explosion and later died at the provincial hospital’s emergency ward.  The other operator, 43-year-old Nguyen Van Hao, suffered less serious injuries and will survive the blast.  Hao has been transferred to Hue Central Hospital for further treatment.

The explosion occurred around 9:00 a.m. Wednesday when the technical survey team was searching for cluster munitions and other explosive weapons in a rice paddy field where local farmers had just finished harvesting their rice.

The two casualties were immediately stabilized by team medics and evacuated to Hai Lang District Hospital, later transferred to Quang Tri Province’s General Hospital.

“This is tragic for Khiet’s immediate family,” said Nguyen Thi Dieu Linh, Operations Manager for the 160-member staff, “and it is a terrible loss for all of us at Project RENEW and NPA, who are like one big family.  It’s a very sad time for everyone.”

Linh said the accident will be investigated to try to determine exactly what happened, to ensure that such an incident never happens again.

“Our sincere condolences go out to Khiet’s family and our colleagues at Project RENEW,” said Jonathon Guthrie, NPA Project Manager. “NPA and RENEW will do whatever we can to find out what caused this tragic accident.  We are working with local authorities in the ongoing investigation.”

“Our thoughts are with Khiet’s family. This is a terrible loss for the entire Project RENEW’s staff. It is the first time since Project RENEW was established in 2001 that our staff  has experienced any accident — and this one is a real tragedy,” said Nguyen Hieu Trung, Project RENEW Coordination Manager.

Since the war ended in 1975, cluster munitions, or “bombies” as they are called by local Vietnamese, have accounted for nearly 40% of total casualties in Quang Tri Province, according to statistics from the Legacies of War Coordination Center.

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Project RENEW

Restoring the Environment and Neutralizing the Effects of the War
Project RENEW Coordination Office
Kids First Village, 185 Ly Thuong Kiet Street, Dong Ha City, Quang Tri Province, Vietnam
053 3858 445 tel / 053 3858 442 fax
projectrenewvietnam@gmail.com / www.landmines.org.vn
Ngo Xuan Hien, Communications & Development Manager, 0915 352 565 mobile
Email: ngoxuanhien@gmail.com

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