30 years later, duds still claim lives in Vietnam
(Missing from this AP story is the fact that many thousands of mines and dud shells were provided by the Viet Cong and the NVA)
An additional 60,064 persons were injured through April 1998, it said, citing statistics from the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs.
The paper estimated that 300,000 tons of unexploded ordnance are around – 2 percent of the 15 million tons of bombs, land mines and shells fired by U.S. forces during the war.
There also are unspecified numbers of land mines planted by the Khmer Rouge and Vietnamese forces during the 1977-79 border war in southwestern Vietnam and by Vietnamese and Chinese forces during their brief but bloody border war in 1979.
Newspapers report casualties from war leftovers almost weekly, as many poor villagers risk their lives to scavenge scrap iron for a little cash.
Vietnam has launched two extensive demining campaigns. The first, from 1975 to 1977 in the southern provinces, cleared 247,000 acres of 3 million unexploded bombs, shells and mines.
The second, in six northern border provinces from 1991 to 1998, cleared more than 2.7 million explosive devices from 30,775 acres of agricultural land, allowing 16,745 families to resettle, the paper said.
The Communist government of Vietnam detained many thousands of former South Vietnamese officials and soldiers in “reeducation camps” for two decades after the war ended in 1975. Inmates of those camps were forced to find, dig up and defuse mines, shells, and bombs left over from the war. Survivors say thousands were killed or maimed, though casualties were not recorded.
The paper said the demining efforts also took a toll, killing 37 soldiers and injuring 117 others in the northern provinces alone.
Last year, officials in the southern province of An Giang found 250 per square mile during work on expansion of a canal.