US bombs killed or injured 50 000 in Laos, survey finds

2010-07-15 07:57

Unexploded bombs dropped on Laos by the US military during the

Indochina War have killed or injured around 50 000 people since the mid-1960s,

state media reported today.

Lao Deputy Prime Minister Lieutenant General Douangchay Phichit

said unexploded ordnance killed or injured an estimated 50 000 people between

1964 and 2007 and at least another 480 people between 2008 and 2009, the

Vientiane Times reported.

The government in 2008 launched a survey of 8 477 villages still

affected by unexploded bombs, the results of which are due to be presented to

the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Vientiane from November 9-12.

It is estimated that around 80 million of the 270 million cluster

bomblets US forces used on Laos during the Indochina War failed to

explode.

Between 1964 and 1973, US warplanes dropped more than 2 million

tons of ordnance on Laos, making the country the most heavily bombed per capita

in history.

The US’s so-called secret war in Laos was aimed at wiping out Lao

communist guerrillas and preventing Vietnamese communist forces from using

eastern Laos as a route for supplies into southern Vietnam.

Around 25% of Laos’ villages were bombed during the war, which

ended in 1975 with the fall of Saigon.

Ridding the country of unexploded bombs from the Indochina War era

remains a major challenge for Laos today.

More than 17 035 hectares of agricultural and other land has been

cleared by the national unexploded ordnance programme since it was established

in 1996.


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