Unexploded Ordnance (UXOs)



The landscape around Phonsavan, in eastern Laos, closely resembles the kind of transitional landscape found on the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains in Oregon and Washington


Here we might even be approaching Republic, WA


A tranquil area, with fairly low population density


So it seems remarkable that during the American War of Aggression against Vietnam, this area was carpet bombed by the US




An old man living in the area said, "But the carpet bombing was the scariest. There was no warning. Bombs began to explode all around this area and we had no idea where they were coming from. On average, they bombed us five times a day. They bombed us almost every day, for more than ten years. Laos had only two million people then. And we were later told that the U.S. and its allies dropped three million tons of bombs on us."



I booked a tour dealing with UXOs


BounMy leads us through terrain still containing UXOs--but now clearly identified





He showed us a cluster bomb still embedded in the  ground, sprayed blue on a previous trip


The cluster bomb casing splits apart during its descent, and scatters hundreds of small bombs



Another unexploded ordnance

These bombs are lethal to this day

An estimated 20,000 people have been killed by UXOs since the end of the war

It may take 50 or 100 years to clear UXOs from Laos



In that same area we pass a bomb crater

Laos is the most heavily bombed country in the world--580,344 bombing missions during the Vietnam War (known in Vietnam as the American War of Aggression)

More bombs than fell on Europe during WWII


It's heartbreaking to hear that children are still killed by UXOs they encounter while playing; though warned, their curiosity gets the best of them





The whole thing became strikingly real, as we walked through this lovely, seemingly harmless terrain and see UXOs

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