November 11, 2010
A 10-year-old girl died and her sister was injured when a leftover cluster munition exploded, an official said Thursday as global delegates met in Laos aiming to speed removal of the bombs.
The surviving sister, aged 15, was in serious condition in hospital, said Bountao, of the victim assistance unit at the National Regulatory Authority which coordinates work on unexploded ordnance.
The two girls were heading home from school when they saw a bomblet “and they just picked it up and are playing, and after that it exploded,” he said.
The accident happened Wednesday in Khamkert district east of the capital Vientiane, said the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Cluster bomblets can resemble a large flashlight battery or a tennis ball — which campaigners against the bombs say makes them appealing to children.
More than 1,000 government and military officials, charity workers and bomb victims have been meeting in Vientiane since Tuesday for the first meeting of states that are party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
The pact, which became international law on August 1, bans cluster bombs and entitles countries affected by them to financial help.
Laos is the most heavily-bombed nation on earth per capita, according to the NRA, which says about 300 people are killed or injured each year by unexploded ordnance.