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A technician with Project Renew prepares a 250-pound aerial bomb for transport and destruction Friday, June 20, 2015, in central Vietnam. It is one of a vast number of unexploded ordnance left over from the Vietnam War.

A technician with Project Renew prepares a 250-pound aerial bomb for transport and destruction Friday, June 20, 2015, in central Vietnam. It is one of a vast number of unexploded ordnance left over from the Vietnam War. (Courtesy of Project Renew)

An explosive ordnance disposal team from Project Renew removed a U.S.-made unexploded 250-pound bomb from a construction site Friday near Ho Chi Minh Highway in central Vietnam.

Construction workers were shocked to discover the AN-M57 aerial bomb, because the building zone in Dakrong District, Quang Tri province, had supposedly been cleared of all ordnance left from the Vietnam War of the 1960s and early 1970s.

The U.S. dropped millions of tons of bombs on the country during that decade-long war and abandoned a vast amount of surplus and unexploded ordnance when forces pulled out in 1975.

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

The bomb was found buried about 5 feet below the surface, an indication of how entrenched the problem of unexploded ordnance is in the country, said Ngo Xuan Hien of Project Renew.

The bomb was discovered by the operator of an earth-moving machine who was grading and leveling the ground.

The nearby highway roughly follows the legendary Ho Chi Minh Trail, which was the target of intense bombing by the U.S. during the war.

Project Renew, which is supported in large part by humanitarian group Norwegian People’s Aid, destroyed the bomb at a safe location.

Project Renew has been expanding its operations into Dakrong District since July 2013. Its technical teams have surveyed 3.1 million square meters for cluster munitions and identified 16 confirmed hazardous areas consisting of 265,000 square meters that need full clearance.

As a result, 252 cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war have been removed and destroyed so far.

olson.wyatt@stripes.com Twitter: @WyattWOlson

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Wyatt Olson is based in the Honolulu bureau, where he has reported on military and security issues in the Indo-Pacific since 2014. He was Stars and Stripes’ roving Pacific reporter from 2011-2013 while based in Tokyo. He was a freelance writer and journalism teacher in China from 2006-2009.

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