UXO explosion kills schoolboy in central Vietnam

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Dinh Phuong Nam, an eighth-grade student, being treated at the Vietnam Cuba Dong Hoi Friendship Hospital after an unexploded ordnance explosion injured him and killed his classmate Hoang Tuan Vu Wednesday morning. Photos by Truong Quang Nam  Van Tu

One student was killed and another was seriously injured when  war-era unexploded ordnance blew up at their school in Quang Binh Province Wednesday morning.

The incident occurred at around 8:20 a.m. during break time at the Le Hoa Secondary School yard in Tuyen Hoa District.

Ngo Thi Anh Dao, the teacher of Hoang Tuan Vu and Dinh Phuong Nam's eighth-grade class, was quoted by Quang Binh Online newspaper as saying that many teachers ran to the scene after the blast and found the two students lying in blood.

Many other students in the yard at the time stampeded, she said.

The teachers rushed the two students to the Tuyen Hoa General Hospital, but Vu died there while his classmate Nam was transferred to the Vietnam Cuba Dong Hoi Friendship Hospital in critical condition.

The teachers told Thanh Nien that Vu had several injuries on his face and chest and had one of his arms severed.

His relatives confirmed the injuries with Quang Binh Online, saying that they seemed to have been caused by shrapnel pieces from a cluster bomb.

Initial investigations by Tuyen Hoa police showed that Vu had found an old piece of unexploded ordnance (UXO) and brought it to school to play with during break time, at which point it exploded. Nam was injured as he stood nearby.

Police found a wrench, a lighter, some tape, a magnet and a small piece of UXO in his clothes and schoolbag.

A piece of a small unexploded ordnance and a magnet found in Vu's schoolbag A wrench, a lighter, tape and pieces of the ordnance taken out of Vu's body 

Investigations into the case are ongoing.

Around 6.6 million hectares (16.3 million acres), or more than a fifth of Vietnam's land area, contains UXO, including bombs, shells and landmines, according to official figures.

The highest rates of UXOs are in the central provinces of Ha Tinh, Nghe An, Quang Binh, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue.

The government estimates that about 800,000 tons of UXO remain, and it will take hundreds of years and billions of dollars to completely get rid of the remaining UXO.

Since the Vietnam War ended in 1975, UXOs have killed more than 40,000 people and injured over 60,000.

In 2010, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung approved a national plan for 2010-2025 to reduce UXO threats and support victims.

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