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Vietnamese teens find large cache of cluster bombs, rockets

These munitions were among the more than 500 found recently by Project Renew in a coastal forest in the central province of Quang Tri in Vietnam. The province was the site of intense bombing by the United States during the Vietnam War.

Two Vietnamese teenagers this week led technicians to a large cache of unexploded ordnance buried in a coastal forest, a legacy from U.S. military intervention in the country.

The boys reported their discovery after hearing the sounds of controlled detonations of old bombs made by technicians with Project Renew, an organization based in Vietnam’s Quang Tri Province, according to demolition team leader Truong Cong Vinh.

A vast amount of surplus and unexploded ordnance was left in the county when U.S. forces pulled out in 1975.

Over the past 40 years, about 40,000 people have died from explosions, and 66,000 have been injured, according to the Vietnam Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs.

“[T]he boys rode up on their bicycles and told us they had found some UXO in a forest in Trieu Lang Commune,” Vinh is quoted on Project Renew’s website.

The teenagers led them to the site, which was about 550 yards square.

“Our five-man team worked for seven consecutive days and found 530 items of UXO, including cluster bombs, rockets, projectiles and a lot of fuses,” Vinh said. Among the munitions were highly dangerous canisters of white phosphorous, which had to be transported out of the community for safe destruction rather than destroyed in place.

The two ninth-graders told the UXO workers that they’d actually discovered the munitions several months earlier when they were out looking for acacia tree seedlings for their parents to plant in the family garden. They saw some munitions jutting out of the sand.

Recently, they attended one of Project Renew’s travelling music shows used to educate the public about the dangers of buried UXO, and they told the ordnance experts that they had decided to report the discovery.

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