Friday, July 31, 2009

Land mine contamination vast in Vietnam

More than one-third of the land in six central Vietnamese provinces remains contaminated with land mines and unexploded bombs from the Vietnam War, according to a study released Friday. Nearly 35 years after the war's end, Vietnamese civilians are still routinely killed and maimed by leftover mines and other explosives. Vietnam estimates that more than 42,000 people have been killed in such accidents since 1975.

The study by the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation and Vietnam's ministry of defense provides the most detailed information to date about the amount and location of unexploded ordinance littering a region that saw some of the heaviest fighting and bombardment during the war. The survey was the result of close collaboration between the United States and Vietnam on one of the most sensitive legacies of the conflict.

In addition to mapping unexploded mines and ordinance, the project, which the US government provided $2 million to finance, involved clearing 3,345 acres (1,354 hectares) of land in 1,361 communities across the six provinces.

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