A team from the Cambodian Mine Action Centre on Thursday (21 May) slowly and carefully lifted an MK80 bomb they discovered embedded at the bottom of the Mekong river in Kandal province.

The Golden West Humanitarian Foundation, in partnership with the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC), regularly conducts site surveys of Cambodia's provinces gathering information about suspected underwater ordnance (UXO/AXO) contamination.

In late April a fisherman reported to the survey team that he suspected a UXO bomb was in the water.

The Cmac Diver Unit led an underwater search that confirmed it was an MK80 series aircraft bomb. MK80 bombs were dropped from US planes during the Cambodia-Vietnam war.

On 18 March 1969, American B-52s began carpet-bombing eastern Cambodia. Operation Breakfast was the first course in a four-year bombing campaign that drew Cambodia headlong into the Vietnam War. The US dropped 540,000 tons of bombs, killing anywhere from 150,000 to 500,000 civilians.

The director of the Golden West Humanitarian Foundation said lifting the large bomb was painstaking.

"The bomb is embedded in the mud right now, so they start clearing around the bomb, so that when they hook up the lift balloon, the balloon they are gonna fill with air to actually pull this to the surface, when they hook that up it has enough strength to pull it up. Because when it is embedded in the mud there's a suction that's created when you try to pull, you know, if you have ever tried to pull your foot out of deep mud, so yep, right now they are clearing around the bottom, then the next guy that goes in is actually going to rig this thing to pull it up," said Allen Tan, the country director of the Golden West Humanitarian Foundation.

The bomb site is near a small town approximately 200 metres from a ferry crossing in the Mekong River. The UXO was then taken to a field so as to dismantle its head and tail.