500lb war-era bomb found in central Vietnam

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A large unexploded bomb was successfully defused in Quang Tri Province's Huong Hoa District on Friday.

The work was carried out by a joint effort between the district military unit and project RENEW (Restoring the Environment and Neutralizing the Effects of the War) - a partnership between Quang Tri Province and international organizations to reduce the effects of unexploded ordnance (UXO) in Vietnam.

The bomb is about 1.5 meters long and weighs 227kg (500lb) and had been detected by scrap metal pickers at around 5 pm on August 16 at Vay village in the district's Tan Lap commune.

These people were attempting to defuse the bomb to sell it as scrap metal when they were detected by local authorities.

Local authorities said the UXO may have been used in an attack by the US army on the village in 1968 to crush revolutionary efforts in Huong Hoa District.

Over the past four years, RENEW teams have safely destroyed 16,000 cluster bombs, landmines, and other UXO from around people's homes, gardens, schools and fields, turning over 600,000 square meters of safe and tillable land to local authorities to be developed for community use.

According to the Defense Ministry's Engineer Corps, more than one fifth of Vietnam's total area is contaminated with unexploded ordnance (UXO). At its current pace, the corps estimates it will take 300 years to completely clear the country of ordnance.

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However, concerned authorities are looking to reduce the period to 100 years, according to a statement made by the Corps at a conference in January to announce a plan to decontaminate UXO in 2012 prepared by Committee 504, the national agency assigned to deal with UXO consequences between 2010 2015.

Between 1975 and 2000, UXO killed more than 40,000 people and injured 60,000 others in Vietnam. The nation spends about US$100 million a year on UXO decontamination.

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