Though it’s been almost fifty years since the American War ended, Vietnam is still full of reminders of its bloody past. One of these is the prominence of unexploded mines.
It’s been estimated that up to 30% of the bombs dropped on Vietnamese ground during the war failed to detonate and lay dormant in the ground waiting for a catalyst – no matter how small.
Vietnamese clear the area after landmines were found north of Saigon on November 1972. Photo by: Ennio I ACOBUCCI / AFP
In 1988, a young boy named Nguyen Dinh Thu (from the Quang Tri District) was playing outside when he accidentally detonated an American landmine. Remarkably, he survived the blast but lost both of his hands.
How Many Landmines Are There In Vietnam?
Stories such as this have become commonplace in Vietnam. With an estimated 14 million tonnes of unexploded explosives still in the ground, unexpected detonation has claimed over 100,000 lives between 1975 and 2007. Full removal of this unexploded ordnance may take up to a century (or more) to complete.
Landmine demo in Vietnam. Photo by: Clear Path International
Removing a landmine isn’t an easy process. It takes a team of highly-skilled, efficient experts to do so and each removed landmine costs around $1,000 to remove.
There’s also the danger of exposing latent Agent Orange, a toxic chemical sprayed by Americans during the war, back into the community and poisoning those living in the proximity.
There are, however, efforts underway to finally remove dormant landmines once and for all. Humanitarian agencies all over Vietnam are partnering to raise awareness, educate, and ultimately strip the country of its deserted mines.
Deminers setting up team rain shelters. Photo by: Clear Path International
It will take time, but action is necessary for Vietnam to finally be free of these horrors of the war, lurking in the landscapes.
Keyword: Are there still landmines in Vietnam?