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Quang Binh Province, Vietnam- A boy was killed this morning in Quang Binh Province, Vietnam and another was seriously injured after one of the boys found a piece of unexploded ordnance left over from the Vietnam War and brought it to class at Le Hoa Secondary School in Tuyen Hoa district.
Hoang Tuan Vu and Phuong Nam, both 13, were playing with the decades-old weapon when it exploded in the schoolyard where students had gathered for recess. Their teacher reported hearing a terrifying blast at 8:25 am and looking out her window to see children running in panic away from where Hoang and Phuong were lying wounded from the explosion. Both boys were taken to an area hospital where Hoang died from his injuries. Phuong is being treated and is expected to recover.
“These types of accidents are sadly common,” said Tran Hong Chi, of Clear Path International, a U.S. based non-profit organization that has been assisting survivors of accidents involving explosive remnants of war since 2000. Clear Path receives funding from the U.S. Department of State, which has dedicated nearly 65 million to Vietnam since 1998 to clear unexploded ordnance and to assist survivors of bomb accidents. “Children find these old bombs and want to show their friends. We see many children killed in groups like this. It is heartbreaking.”
This is the second accident this week in Quang Binh involving bombs left over from a war that ended nearly four decades ago. On October 18, Vo Minh Tam, a 41-year-old man lost his foot to an explosion after digging for scrap metal and striking an unidentified explosive with his shovel.
Nearly eight million tons of bombs were dropped on Vietnam during the Vietnam War and 800,000 tons of unexploded ordnance remains in the ground, hampering development in addition to regularly claiming lives and limbs. Up to 40% of those injured and killed in such accidents are children under 16 years old.