A family in Cam Ranh Town, central Vietnam, have dug out 23 skeletal remains - and there may be more of them - under their back yard for the past three weeks.
Nguyen Van Xe and his family in Ba Ngoi Ward, Cam Ranh Town, found the first five sets of remains on Dec. 27, a few days after they started digging to build a biogas system in the yard.
Xe, 75, informed the town authorities, who allowed his family to continue excavating the site but did not offer any help in identifying the remains.
However, on Monday the People’s Committee of Cam Ranh Town asked Xe’s family to stop digging further and wait for the authorities to ponder the findings.
Tran Anh Dung, vice chairman of Cam Ranh Town People’s Committee, told the press on Monday that the town government was “puzzled.”
“We hadn’t expect that the further [Xe’s family] dug, the more remains they found,” Dung said.
“We didn’t find any soldier helmet or sandals,” he said, referring to usual signs to identify whether the remains belonged to soldiers killed in the past war.
The remains were then re-buried at a local cemetery and the authorities didn’t keep samples to identify them, Dung said.
The location of a mass grave found in the back yard of a family in Cam Ranh Town, where at least 23 sets of remains have been discovered since last month. Photo: Hien Luong
“We asked elder people in the area, and none of them knew anything about this [mass grave],” he said.
Dung said the discovery was reported to the higher-level Khanh Hoa Province authorities, and he was waiting for their instruction.
Xe was quoted as saying in VTC News website that he saw many “strange signs” with the remains.
He said the first five sets of remains had been arranged in a star shaped with their heads pointed to the middle, and covered with a giant rock.
Others were not placed in any particular order – some lying on their sides, some others lying on their stomachs, while some others in sitting position. Some remains had their lower part missing, according to Xe.
He also said that many skulls were broken or marked, and that many remains had iron rust traces in their wrists, ankles and hips.
Xe said his family settled in the area since 1966.
None of the remains were of children, Dang Si, 62, who helped with the excavation, said, adding that when he first moved to live there, the area where the remains were found were covered with forests.