News / Asia

More War-Era Munitions Uncovered in Vietnam

Bomb on scales at scrap yard. (VOA/M. Brown)
Bomb on scales at scrap yard. (VOA/M. Brown)
TEXT SIZE - +
Marianne Brown
— The number of war-era bombs and mines reported in central Vietnam has risen in recent years as more contaminated land is cleared for development. Many people know the dangers but accidents continue to claim lives.

Nearly 40 years after the Vietnam War, an estimated 600,000 tons of unexploded ordnance, known as UXO, remain in the ground. Vietnamese authorities said these mortars, bombs and grenades have killed or wounded around 100,000 people since the war's end.

  • A French-era mortar discovered metres away from a kindergarten. (VOA/M. Brown)
  • Bomb on scales at scrap yard. (VOA/M. Brown)
  • A scrap dealer stands next to UXO in his yard. (VOA/M. Brown)
  • Project Renew's Rapid Response Team. (VOA/M. Brown)
  • The rapid response team clear up after the explosion, the kindergarten is in the background. (VOA/M. Brown)

One of the most heavily contaminated provinces is Quang Tri, the scene of many ferocious battles and located just below the former demilitarized zone that once separated North and South Vietnam.

Although non-governmental organizations have been removing unexploded ordinance in the province for over a decade, more land development and a better reporting system has lead to an increase in the amount of dangerous materials found in recent years.

Henk Liebenberg is technical operations manager for the Mines Advisory Group, known as MAG, in Quang Tri. MAG destroyed around 7,500 items in 2009. In 2012, the group destroyed more than 17,000.

He said, “In January we went to a village where the community liaison team works and we found nearly 50 submunitions of where the locals said, sometimes about 500, 600 meters away from where they actually live, where they do their work in the forest.”

Ordnance clearance groups now have hotlines for residents to call when they find war-time munitions. Community liaison officers also go house to house to get information directly. This, Liebenberg said, is another reason why more are being reported.

Last month another group named Project Renew was called in to destroy a French mortar and U.S. grenade near an acacia plantation just meters away from a kindergarten.

Development and Public Affairs Officer Ngo Xuan Hien was at the scene. He said the site was well known for being contaminated by unexploded ordnance. “About two kilometers from here is the Quang Tri citadel which is very notorious for fighting in 1972 so it’s very common to see UXO remains scattered all over the place,” he added.

Many Vietnamese seek out the unexploded ordinance to sell the metal for scrap, sometimes taking great risks to illegally remove the explosives to sell to rock quarries or fishermen.

However, one of MAG's Senior Community Liaison officers, Le Van Minh, said the number of scrap metal dealers has decreased in recent years, in part because of the economic slowdown which has hit the construction industry.

Most ordinance clearing groups concentrate in Quang Tri, although there is some activity in nearby provinces. Awareness in other parts of the country is not high and the results can be fatal. At the end of last year two accidents claimed the lives of five children.

Neither the United States nor Vietnam have signed the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention of 1997 nor the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. Experts say Vietnam is holding back so it can preserve its mine fields in the north of the country as a buffer against China, but it is making progress in negotiations on the treaty against cluster bombs.

You May Like

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

US congressional delegation initiates $84 million Agent Orange cleanup project More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid