Cam Lo, Quang Tri (11 Feb 2014)
Project RENEW’s EOD Teams resumed operations yesterday after a nine-day break for Tet, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year holiday, and safely destroyed a dangerous grenade near an old tomb in Cam Lo District.
A few days earlier, on 28 January 2013, Ms. Ho Thi Lanh was shocked to unearth a bomb near the family’s grave. The elderly woman and her children were cleaning the grave as part of a longtime Tet tradition. From the 23rd day of the lunar December until the New Year’s eve, Vietnamese families visit their ancestors’ tombs and clean the gravesites. They uproot weeds, plant and place flowers, and decorate the grave stones.
When Ms. Lanh saw the UXO, it looked like a bombie (cluster bomb), the leading cause of deaths and injuries in her village since the war ended. Ms. Lanh immediately warned her children to stop working and report the discovery to Project RENEW’s toll-free hotline number. Because RENEW’s operating teams had started their Tet holiday the day before, RENEW staff instructed Ms. Lanh’s family not to touch the bomb and assured them that this would be a priority response right after Tet.
As promised, RENEW’s EOD Team No.3 arrived at the gravesite first thing yesterday morning and immediately undertook action to neutralize the ordnance. The explosive item was not a cluster bomb, but a U.S. hand grenade that contained extremely toxic counter strike gas. Within a very short time the team had destroyed it, safely.
“We are so grateful to RENEW’s quick response team for bringing safety back to our villagers, particularly our children,” said Ms. Lanh’s husband, Mr. Nguyen Dinh Loi.
That day turned into a busy start-up after the Lunar New Year holiday for RENEW’s EOD teams. They responded to nine UXO discoveries, resulting in 15 items of UXO being safely destroyed, and releasing safe land for local people to continue their activities without fear.
Local residents who are constantly on the alert, like Ms. Lanh and her children who have been exposed to RENEW’s Mine Risk Education outreach program, are Quang Tri’s first line of defense against accident and injury. When local residents encounter UXO in their daily activities, they know what to do to stay safe. Their initiatives are what trigger timely and quick responses from RENEW’s EOD teams, which are an integral part of Project RENEW’s efforts to make Quang Tri safe.
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