Fri, 31 Jul 2009 14:41:05 GMT
Bombs and land mines left over from the Vietnam War have so far killed more than 10,500 people in the south Asian country, a study has found.
The report, released on Friday by Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (VVAF) and Vietnam's Ministry of Defense, said that 10,529 people have been killed and 12,231 others injured by leftover bombs, shells and mines since the war ended in 1975.
Most of the casualties were men collecting scrap metal, farming or herding, the report found, but many children were also killed or injured playing with unexploded ordnance.
The survey found 3,260 areas, covering 1.6 million hectares (4.0 million acres) in six central Vietnamese provinces, which are lethally contaminated with unexploded bombs and landmines.
The six provinces are situated near the former Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that divided Communist North Vietnam from the US-backed south.
Phan Duc Tuan, an army colonel and deputy head of the military's engineering command, said at the current pace, it will take 300 years and more than $10 billion to clean up the unexploded bombs.
Tuan, whose command oversees the center charged with clearing unexploded ordnance, added that even with aid, only half of the leftover bombs could be cleared by 2050.
The report said there was also a significant economic impact besides the humanitarian toll. "Contamination hinders construction of housing, expansion of infrastructure, resettlement initiatives and other development activities," it said.
At least three million Vietnamese from both sides and more than 58,000 Americans died in the war.