US funds $1.6 mln UXO clearance project in central Vietnam

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UXO destroyed in the central province of Quang Nam on Friday when a US-sponsored project of UXO decontamination was launched

A US government funded US$1.6 million project to clear unexploded ordnances (UXO) in the central provinces of Quang Nam and Quang Binh began implementation on Friday.

Dozens of bombs and mines were destroyed in Quang Nam to mark the launch of the project by the Mines Advisory Group (MAG), a non-governmental organization based in UK, from now till 2014. The ordnances were found in Binh Minh Commune, Thang Binh District.

Portia Stratton, director of MAG Vietnam, was quoted as saying in VnExpress that they would map the locations of dangerous areas based on information provided by local residents and identify ordnances before moving them to an area for safe destruction or destroy them on the spot.

The latest project is part of US efforts to help Vietnam overcome war legacies, VnExpress reported, adding that that country has provided $65 million for UXO decontamination activities in Vietnam since 1989.

The US government has also supported survivors of UXO-related accidents in Quang Nam through the non-governmental organization Clear Path International, US Ambassador to Vietnam David Shear said in the news website.

He said the US also hopes to carry out economic cooperation projects to improve areas that have suffered from UXO contamination.

At a conference earlier this year, it was reported that the US Army discharged more than 15 million tons of bombs, landmines and other explosive materials on Vietnam, and around 800,000 tons of UXO were left behind after the Vietnam War ended in 1975.

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UXOs have contaminated more than one fifth of the country's total area and have so far killed or maimed tens of thousands of people, including children. Between 1975 and 2000, UXOs killed more than 40,000 people and injured 60,000 others in Vietnam.

Vietnam spends an estimated US$100 million on UXO decontamination a year, and is looking to speed up the work so it can clear up this war legacy in the next 100 years, according to the conference.

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