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)
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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened 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.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid