Hanoi (dpa) – Two scrap metal collectors died and another was left seriously injured when a war-era bomb in Vietnam’s Central Highlands exploded, police said Thursday.
The accident happened on Tuesday when the men, aged between 31 and 35, found the one-metre bomb on a hill and attempted to extract the explosives, Nguyen Ba Ngoc, deputy police chief in Duc Co District, Lam Dong Province, said.
Two of the men died instantly. The third man was in hospital in a serious but stable condition, a doctor at Gia Lai General Hospital who declined to be named said.
The area is heavily contaminated with unexploded ordnance from the war, and there have been similar accidents over the years but this was the most serious, Ngoc said.
US warplanes dropped 15 million tonnes of explosives on the country during what the Vietnamese call the American War.
According to the United Nations, 104,000 Vietnamese have been killed by leftover bombs, landmines and artillery shells since it ended in 1975.
Some seek out the unexploded ordinance to sell the metal for scrap, and take great risks illegally removing the explosives to sell to quarries or fishermen.