War-era shell store discovered in central Vietnam

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Two members of a bomb detection in the central province of Quang Tri removing shells found in a war-era store on March 22

At least 500 unexploded shells are expected to be found in an underground war-era store which was discovered in the central province of Quang Tri on Friday.

The store in Khe Sanh Town, Huong Hoa District, was found by local people who were collecting pine resin.

Following their tip-offs, the provincial bomb detection team unearthed and moved 115 shells, including mortars, to a specialized site that same day to explode them later.

A report on VnExpress said the shells were found some two meters underground and the team localized the store within an area of 25 square meters.

It will probably take one week to remove all of the 500 or more shells of various types expected to be found within the store, said Nguyen Van Cuong, head of the bomb detection team.

According to Cuong, the store dates back to the Vietnam War and the discovered shells are able to cause injuries and fatalities within the diameter of 20-25 meters.

Around 6.6 million hectares of land, or more than a fifth of Vietnam's total area, are contaminated by unexploded ordnance left behind from the Vietnam War, according to official figures.

Only 300,000 hectares (740,000 acres) have been cleared so far.

Experts estimate it will take hundreds of years and billions of dollars to completely clear Vietnam of bombs, shells, and mines left over from the war-era.

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