Trieu Phong, Quang Tri (8 April 2013)
A Saturday evening explosion of wartime ordnance that was deeply buried under the foundation of a house in Quang Tri Province shredded part of the structure, but the elderly couple living there escaped injury. The detonation occurred in Le Xuyen Village, Trieu Trach Commune of Trieu Phong District.
Early the next morning, a Sunday and normally not a working day, staff of Project RENEW traveled to the village to conduct an initial survey of the accident following a phone call from the team’s Military Liaison Officer based in Trieu Phong District.
The blast occurred around 7:40pm Saturday night when Mr. Thang was watching news on TV. His wife was washing dishes in the front yard. The couple was so close to the explosion that they both fainted, and regained consciousness as neighbors rushed to the house to see the couple trembling with fear.
A wall collapsed where the explosion created a three-meter wide hollow under one wing of the house. The shock wave also caused serious damage to the roof and remaining walls
“RENEW’s presence in the village so soon after an accident occurs is a comfort to the couple and the entire village,” said Mr. Truong Duy, Chairman of Trieu Trach Commune’s People Committee, who was present at the scene.
In these situations, RENEW teams always follow up with a return visit, to conduct a technical check over the entire area. On Monday morning the team returned and found fragments under the bomb crater that indicated the ordnance was a Vietnam War-era five-inch naval projectile, which suddenly detonated at a depth of about two meters. The team’s search included the garden and other areas within the couple’s property to make sure no other unexploded ordnance remained there. The team’s work completed, villagers in Le Xuyen could then resume their daily lives with peace of mind.
RENEW also passed on the accident information to Clear Path International, an international victim assistance NGO operating in Quang Tri which provides support for families after an accident.
In Quang Tri, local people are not surprised when deeply buried munitions explode from time to time. According to Chairman Duy of the CPC, in this commune, there have been four explosions of wartime ordnance from deep underground. The first explosion took place under the middle of a house, totally destroying it. The other two went off in rice fields. Fortunately, nobody was killed or injured.
It also has happened in other areas as well. In 2006, an explosion destroyed an entire house in Trieu Dong Commune.
Located along the coastline, Trieu Phong District was subject to many naval attacks during the period of 1968-1972. That explains why many coastal communes are heavily impacted by unexploded projectiles, in addition to other explosive remnants of war. Last May, an eight-inch naval projectile was safely removed and destroyed by RENEW’s EOD team from a farmer’s paddy rice field in Trieu Hoa Commune.
Project RENEW was established in 2001 as a joint effort between the government of Quang Tri Province and interested INGOs to “restore the environment and neutralize the effects of the war” – with the main focus on unexploded ordinance.
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