Demining in the Depths
In pitch-black waters, with only their hands to guide them, Cam­bo­dia’s first batch of salvage div­ers will soon start to recover the thousands of tons of unexploded artillery shells and bullets that lie at the bottom of the country’s lakes and rivers.
 
But before they begin their perilous underwater operations, the 35 staff members of the Cam­bo­dian Mine Action Center (CMAC) first had to learn how to swim.
More than 20 years after the Khmer Rouge regime, under which 2 million Cambodians perished, and the following civil war left the country littered with mines and unexploded ordnance, it still remains one of the most heavily mined regions.
 
A potential of 300 ships were sunk in Cambodia’s in the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers in the 1960’s and 70’s, when the former regime received U.S. supply from South Vietnam before being toppled by the Khmer Rouge. Some of the barges were filled with up to 1,000 tons of munition, which, if recovered, could still be used today and sold by anyone hoping to make a profit.
 
Former U.S. Army explosive ordnance disposal specialists and divers trained Cambodia’s first salvage diving unit to start demining the country’s waterways.
 
This is the story of the group of initially 35 through their first swimming classes to scuba diving training on Cambodia’s coast and a graduation ceremony honoring ten men who made it through the rigorous training.
 
(text by Denise Hruby)
 
Deminers from the Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) practice stretching on the shore of Independence Beach – Sihanoukville.
Det-Stg Tony Langer – a former member of the Police Bomb Squad and now member of Golden West Humanitarian Foundation – teaches the basics of snorkeling to a group of Deminers from the Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) in the waters of Independence Beach – Sihanoukville.
Tourists look on as staff from the Cambodia Mine Action Center learn how to scuba dive in a hotel’s pool in Sihanoukville
In order to get used to the zero visibility of the water of the Mekong river, one of the deminer makes an obstacle course completely blind.
Just 10 deminers were able to finish the course and receive a certification of graduation in a ceremony held in the Headquarter of CMAC in Phnom Penh.
Demining in the Depths
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Demining in the Depths

In pitch-black waters, with only their hands to guide them, Cam­bo­dia’s first batch of salvage div­ers will soon start to recover the thousands Read More
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