Unexploded bombs and munitions, leftover from the Vietnam War, continue to pose a threat to villagers some 40 years later. Julie Noce reports.
A metal detector squeals as it's passed over a stretch of land in northeastern Laos. A bomb detecting group is searching for unexploded ordnance and cluster munitions leftover from the Vietnam War. For about 10 years in the '60's and 70's, the U.S. Air Force used the region as a dumping ground for some 270 million bombs. When their targets in Vietnam weren't available, and when they couldn't land while carrying the explosives, U.S. warplanes dropped munitions here... a third of which are still unexploded. More than 20,000 people have been injured or killed.... (nats exploding bomb) Humanitarian workers with the U.K.-based Mines Advisory Group are doing what they can to find and detonate the munitions, but say another 20 years of clearing is needed. Villagers are trying to make the best of it using the old bomb casings as building pillars, or melting down the metal into souvenirs. But the threat remains and people say the U.S. needs to deal with the problem. If America feels guilty, this villager says, they should come here help remove the explosives. U.S. President Barack Obama will be in the capital this week for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit and is expected to announce more funding for bomb removal programs.