NPR: “Laos’ Unexploded Bombs: Deadly Scrap Metal, Toys”
Posted: Mar 5, 2010
By Michael Sullivan
During the Vietnam War, the U.S. military dropped more bombs on supply routes in Laos than it did on all of Europe during World War II. Laos is paying the price, as the countryside is still riddled with unexploded bombs — many of which look like harmless metal spheres. Bomb disposal units are trying to reclaim the land from tons of unexploded ordnance.
Now, let’s talk about an inadvertent American export: unexploded bombs. During the Vietnam War, the U.S. military dropped more bombs on Laos than it did on all of Europe during World War II – an estimated 1.6 million tons. That made Laos the most heavily bombed country in the world by some measures.
Americans were trying to disrupt communist supply lines along the famous Ho Chi Minh Trail, much of which ran through Laos on its way back into Vietnam. But a lot of the bombs that were dropped did not detonate, and they are still creating problems 40 years later. NPR’s Southeast Asia correspondent Michael Sullivan reports.
Listen to the Story: