340kg Wartime Bomb Safely Disposed in Central Vietnam

Bomb disposal experts safely detonated a 340kg (750 pound) bomb in Quang Tri Province on June 5 after scrap metal collectors had partially dismantled it. The M17 bomb, containing 175 kilograms of explosives, was found last week in a melaleuca forest in Gio Viet Commune, Gio Linh District by scrap metal collectors, who managed to partly dismantle it and take out 40 kilograms of explosives. Local authorities however came to know about the bomb and alerted Project RENEW, which sent an explosive ordnance disposal team to transport the bomb and the extracted explosives to a demolition site half an hour away for safe disposal. The team placed the bomb and explosives into a hole 1.5 meters (five feet) deep and surrounded them with sandbags, before evacuating locals from the surrounding area and detonating the bomb from a distance. Project RENEW is a Vietnamese organization jointly established by Quang Tri authorities and interested international NGOs to "restore the environment and neutralize the effects of the war," with main focus on dealing with the unexploded ordnance (UXO) left from the Vietnam War. Quang Tri was one of the main battlegrounds during the war. It was the stage for the Battle of Quang Tri as part of the Tet Offensive in 1968 and the Second Battle of Quang Tri as part of the Easter Offensive in 1972. Approximately 10,000 Vietnamese soldiers lost their lives in the two battles. 391,000 hectares of land in the province, accounting for 83.3% of its total area, were still infested with mines and other explosives from the war, according to official statistics. According to Quang Tri's Legacy of War Coordination Center, 8,540 people in the province have fallen victims to UXOs since 1975, 3,431 have died. Many were collecting scrap when an explosive went off. (VnExpress June 5)