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bombies 1

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Everyone talked about Vietnam, Cambodia came under the spotlight, but Laos it's almost sometimes as though it never existed. Yet there was a war here, a secret war one of the biggest bombing campaigns in history. Those on the ground will never forget. Laos, a tiny corner of Southeast Asia, saturated with bombs These damn bomblets are going off all over Laos, killing children and peasants. <advertisements> Northern Laos. A land of remote villages where people still live much as they did long ago. Gathering their food from land But this land that feeds them also holds a hidden danger which, more than 30 years ago, fell from the sky. Between 1964 and 1973 the United States conducted a massive air war against Laos dropping so many drops as to make Laos, with its two and a half million people, the most heavily bombed country in history. This was a secret war in violation of the Geneva Accords and kept secret from congress and the American people. The most feared type of bomb used was a newly developed weapon known as a "cluster bomb." An estimated 90 million cluster bombs were dropped on Laos Many never exploded leaving the countryside littered with millions of unexploded bombs, or "bombies". I'd read the figures, the nine years of bombing, the tonnage, and all the rest of it, but I'd never seen a landscape like that Um, it was unimaginable. I had never, ever experienced anything on that scale from a technical point of view I'd seen big mindfields. Um, I'd seen some of the horrific situations that happened from scatterable mines in Afghanistan but I had never seen a society that was just so impregnated with ordinance (bombs). The bombies that we find out here are everywhere. We found them in bamboo trees where they had been dropped when the bamboo was young and it's in the cleft of a branch, and it's grown up and you'll find it's ten foot up in the branches We found them in school playgrounds in the classrooms under houses... it's everywhere. Sienkon province, Northern Laos. The approaching monsoon means it's time to prepare the fields for planting rice. Bontabi and his family share the work--and the risk It may seem foolhardy to work in a field of bombs But Boontabi's family doesn't have a choice. If they don't grow enough food they won't eat. Over the years, in this small plot Boontabi has already uncovered nearly 50 bombies If the farmer's gotta plant the field he will take the chance and move He'll move the ordinance. He could be lucky nine times out of ten But unfortunately, in a lot of cases, they move them once, and, um, get killed. Boontabi and his wife have a right to be worried. Since the end of the war there have been more than 20,000 casualties caused by unexploded ordinance. Unlike landmines, which are designed to maim (injure), cluster bombs are designed to kill. And their metal fragments can be lethal for up to 150 yards often killing not only a farmer, but his family as well. This is the bomb log unit 26, affectionately known out here as the "bombie" This sort has two hemispheres, um, containing up to about 80 grams of explosives, with a fuse internal Sometimes they're found in this condition, like they were dropped yesterday some you can see the ball bearings coming through the casing here. They contain about 300 ball bearings. (It) comes in two halves of a bigger shell containing up to about 670 bomblets As it drops the two halves open up These are thrown out into the ??? This as you would see it leaving the CV, the cluster bomb unit the two halves together. These flues on the outside impart spin that in turn arms the central fuse and when it hits the ground it goes off. 300 ball bearings going off at ballistic speed. Quite a devastating weapon. Today's a special day in the village of Tahnua Boontabi, his family, and the other villagers take time away from their work to meet with the team from the mine's advisory group. They meet in three groups men, women, and children. The focus is on how to prevent accidents from unexploded ordinance, or UXO. Children are especially at risk. Not all accidents happen to puppets. When we first had any contact with the Lao people themselves we'd ask them about casualities and they'd actually said, "Well no, I think casualties aren't that bad." And of course, after we began to understand, the, in places like Sien Kom, in some places, the casualties compared with the mine casualties in Cambodia We said, 'Why did you say the casualty situation wasn't that bad when there are so many people being blown up?' And the answer was really an education. Because what we were told was, 'We didn't think it was because, you know, we've lived with this for two decades, for more than two decades. It was normal. "It was only now when we realized it was actually something extraordinary from talking to you," "From the kind of planning that we're making to solve the problem that we realized you don't have to live with this."

Video Details

Duration: 9 minutes and 32 seconds
Country: Japan
Language: English
Views: 582
Posted by: spiri on Feb 19, 2009

set in the lao countryside, this documentary highlights the extreme dangers that cluster bombs illegally dropped by american war planes during the vietnam war still pose to the civilian population in laos.

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