Nearly half of landmine victims die of wounds in central Vietnam (VIETNAM)

About half of all landmines victims in central Vietnam die from their injuries, according to a study released Friday by the Vietnamese government and a US war veterans organization. Between 1975 and 2004, 10,597 people in these provinces were victims of landmines and unexploded ordnances, of whom 4,817 had died.


The survey was carried out between February 2004 and July this year by the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (VVAF) and the Vietnamese military in 344 communes of three heavily-bombed central provinces of Quang Tri, Quang Binh and Ha Tinh.

"Destruction does not stop when conflict ends, and this is especially telling of circumstances in Vietnam today. This survey represents an extraordinary milestone in US-Vietnam relations," VVAF President William Belding told reporters.

Most of the blasts are triggered while people are farming or trying to salvage the metal casings and gunpowder from the munitions to sell. Others are a result of children unaware of the deadly nature of their newly found "toy".

"This project and its findings would provide the government of Vietnam with database containing development information needed to work for the development of a national mine action plan," said deputy US ambassador to Vietnam, John Boardman at the launching ceremony Friday.

The project, funded by the US State department, showed that more than 1,300 square kilometers of land in the survey areas are considered confirmed contaminated, while another 3,050 square kilometers are suspected to harbor unexploded ordnance or landmines.

According to the US military, more than 15 million tonnes of bombs, mines, artillery shells and other kinds of munitions were used during the Vietnam War.

As much as 10 percent of this ordnance is estimated to have failed to explode.

More than 58,000 Americans and about three million Vietnamese died during the Vietnam War, which ended in 1975. Diplomatic relations between the two former foes were only established in 1995.

Von: 14 October 2005 (AFP)

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