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MAG: audio diary from Laos

A farmer and his young son with a 2000lb shell case in a field
It's thought up to 2 million tonnes of ordnance was dropped on Laos during the Vietnam War

Thanks to the Vietnam War, the country of Laos is one of the most heavily bombed places on Earth.

Tom Morgan
Tom Morgan visited the Phonsavan area of Laos

Between 1965 and 1973, American bombers dropped more than 2 million tonnes of ordnance on Laos, much of which remains undetonated.

It's one of 17 countries in which the Manchester-based Mines Advisory Group (MAG) is currently active, clearing unexploded bombs and landmines and helping communities reclaim their land and rebuild their lives.

To mark the 20th anniversary of MAG Tom Morgan recorded an audio diary from out in the field in Laos.

Day 1

More than 35 years on, Laos is still littered with thousands of tonnes of unexploded ordnance, preventing people from working the land and making a living.

Tom Morgan flies out to Phonsavan near the Vietnamese border where MAG is working to make the area safe for people to return.

Day 2

Day 2: Tom Morgan witnesses the destruction an unexploded shell in Laos.

American B-52 bombers dropped 2 million tonnes of ordnance on the country during the Vietnam War.

In clearing a six sq km area near Phonsavan on the Vietnamese border, MAG de-miners destroys two mortars and a hand grenade.

Day 3

Tom Morgan meets one of MAG's all-women field teams in Laos who are trained to search for and destroy unexploded bombs.

Tom then hears that three MAG workers are taken by helicopter to hospital after suffering electric shocks in an accident.

Day 4

Tom Morgan visits a rural area of Laos where villagers talk about living with the constant fear of unexploded bombs in the fields.

Three people in the village were killed out while farming vegetables. But now MAG has cleared the area, they say they can 'work the land without fear'.

Tom then talks to a man who was blinded when a shell exploded and now works as a masseur.

Day 5

Tom goes to the MAG information office in Phonsavan which works to make people aware of MAG and the scale of the bombing in Laos.

The liaison officer tells Tom that, in some cases, more than 4,000 bombs were dropped on the same target in Laos.

It's believed that 30% of the two million tonnes of ordnance dropped on Laos remains undetonated.

MAG: Manchester's best kept secret
02 Nov 09 |  History


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