Tombs, trees razed by frenzied prospectors

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A gold rush has overwhelmed a small village in Thua Thien-Hue Province the past ten days.

A flood of amateur prospectors have felled thousands of trees and leveled mountain tops in Vinh Son village, VnExpress reported Friday.

Local authorities have tried to disperse the crowds but the small police force has proven unable to stem the deluge of illegal gold diggers, local officials said.

They said the gold rush has ravaged the landscape and brought thousands of ruthless fortune-seekers from all over the country.

Le Son said his family was forced to relocate the tombs of their ancestors.

"If you don't hurry, the gold diggers will dig up the tombs of your forefathers," Son said.

Vo Cong Nhon, a commune chairman, said the gold rumor has spread all over the country, further compounding the problem.

Many of the fortune seekers have hauled off large amounts of soil containing trace amounts of gold for processing.

Several gold diggers were hospitalized Wednesday night, after a fight broke out over a disputed dig site.

Nhon said local authorities have arrested several people.

They have also confiscated dozens of sacks of gold-flecked soil and seven motorbikes belonging to the illegal miners.

Following their raids, he said, they've filled in holes dug by the illegal miners, only to discover that they are excavated the following day.

"The illegal gold diggers have ruined public order and security in the area," Nhon said. "If they are not stopped in time, not only will the landscape be destroyed but they are sure to bring a variety of social evils, like drugs and prostitution."

There's been no official confirmation of the amount of gold in the area.

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