Take a look at the all-woman squad, whose job is to clear out Vietnam’s unexploded.
The dirty war between U.S. and Vietnam has left deep scars in Vietnam as they suffer due to the unexploded bombs till date. Thousands die in accidents involving unexploded bombs which the government has now decided to take extreme measures towards saving the people’s lives.
An all-woman explosive disposal team is diffusing the bombs left behind during the war they have planned to rehabilitate more than 60,000 hectares of agricultural land on March 4, 2020.
In Quang Tri province, Vietnam, Teams of an all-female landmines clearance group are getting ready for work on a field. A 16-member team of women detonates wartime bombs. The team plans to clear the province of bombs by 2025.
The women wear protective gear, as they walk slowly down an empty field in Vietnam, carrying a large metal detector that clicks when spotting an unexploded bomb.
“Many safety measure sand proper protective gear are worn to protect them from the mines” says medic and safety officer Nguyen Thi Ha Lan. She supervises her teammates, who are also known as the “landmine girls”, preparing to detonate a cluster bomb left behind from the war with the United States that ended in 1975.
U.S dropped many bombs which is still active underneath the soil in Quang Tri province, north-central Vietnam. The process of detonating the bomb is quite dangerous and these women are ready to take on anything. LAN warns the people to clear the area, once they are ready to detonate. A siren goes off and then a big boom. Any nearby bombs will also be detonated on collision with the other explosion.
Lan is part of an all-woman explosive disposal team working under project RENEW (Restoring the Environment and Neutralizing the Effect of War), to help rehabilitate more than 60,000 hectares (150,000 acres) of agricultural land. This area was one of the most heavily bombed of the war and the US Department of Defense estimates that 10 percent of the 80 million tons of munitions used by the US army in Vietnam failed to detonate on impact.
Many women, amputated their legs or hands and many become a handicap, while getting caught in the explosion. Hoang Thi Hoa, who lost both legs and an arm due to unexploded ordnance during the Vietnam War, is now being assisted by her daughter Nguyen Thi Ha Lan, who is also a member of the all-women landmines clearance team, at their home in Quang Tri. For Lan, being part of the 16-member team has a special meaning. As she and her team members have helped clear over 5,600 hectares (14,000 acres) of disarming landmines.
“It is an honor to wear the uniform of the project every day, so even if we aren’t able to wear make-up or a beautiful dress like everyone else, we all feel proud from the bottom of our hearts,” says Lan as she smiles hiding her pain. At the age of 12, her mother Hoa lost both legs and an arm due to unexploded bombs, while playing in her front yard. “When I look at the kids playing in my front yard, it reminds me of my mother and I used to cry silently inside,” she adds.
Many shells of US bombs used during the Vietnam War are still displayed at a bombs and landmines exhibition in Quang Tri. A third of the victims are children who mistake the round, tennis-ball sized cluster bombs for something to play with. In Quang Tri alone, there have been over 8,500 casualties from accidents involving an accidental explosion. But Quang Tri had no accidents last year.
There are still many explosives to be cleared. In August 2018, more than 1,400 items were found in an underground cache. The plan is to clear the province of unexploded ordnance by 2025.
inNewscity is taking the privilege to salute the women who are part of this courageous job.