Bomb explodes at Mae Sot rubbish dump

Feb 22, 2008 (DVB), Fourteen Burmese migrants were injured today when a bomb exploded at a rubbish dump on the outskirts of the Thai border town of Mae Sot.

The explosion occurred at around 8.30am when a municipal dumpster with the licence plate 7724 brought the rubbish from Ban Nua market to the dump.

Fourteen Burmese nationals, including three children, were injured in the blast.

U Than Ngwe, 45, who was among those injured, said the bomb went off as people began to search through the rubbish for things they could resell.

"Dumpster number 3 unloaded the rubbish from the market and we began searching through it for any valuable items, and then the bomb exploded near where a child was searching," U Than Ngwe said.

"The child was seriously injured and in a state of shock, and he was running around for a while and then collapsed," he went on.

"I felt the side of my body and it was only then I noticed the side of my body was suddenly numb, and I couldn't see anything."

U Than Ngwe said that many other people became unconscious in the blast.

All of the injured were sorting through garbage at the time, including 8-year-old Maung Aung Bo and 30-year-old ethnic Karen Pho Dah, who suffered serious injuries to their eyes and limbs and were admitted to Mae Sot hospital.

A police officer on duty at Mae Sot police station said the incident was under investigation.

"We assume it was someone who dropped the bomb into a rubbish bin, and we hope to find the culprit as soon as possible," the officer said.

Around 300 Burmese migrants who live in the 70 households near the dump make their living from searching through the rubbish for items they can resell.

One Burmese child who works at the dump said people could make money by selling what they find to shops.

"We mostly collect plastic and rubber materials, and sell them back to shops. We make about 20 or 30 baht a day," he said.

Another rubbish collector said that he could make more money working at the dump than in Burma.

"Even though we don't feel secure because we are here illegally, we still have to make a living," the rubbish collector said.

"In Burma, I make about 1000 kyat a day, but that is nowhere near enough for my family of four to survive on," he said.

"But here, if we sell a bag of plastic garbage, we get about 30 or 40 baht, and that is enough to feed my family."

Reporting by Htet Yazar

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