Friday, November 6, 2015

Vietnam Battlefield Relics Used as Everyday Objects in Laos

The end of the Vietnam War wasn’t the end of the troubles that came after, especially for those living in Laos. During the war, in the period from 1964 to 1973, the US army dropped more than 270 million bombs over this small country. That is more than 2 million tons of bombs. Statistically speaking, a plane dropped bombs every eight minutes during 24 hours, for nine years. Up to this date, Laos is considered as the most heavily bombed country per capita in history.

But not all of those bombs exploded and even today, after 40 years, people are trying to clean all the mess that is caused by them. It is estimated that around 30% of the bombs failed to explode. Many of those are still buried in the ground, detonating in most unfortunate moments and places.

A majority of accidents happen when the local population tries to open the bomb casings while searching for scrap metal. Gathering this bomb scrap is a very dangerous occupation, but still, many people do it because it can bring good income. A bomb casing that weighs around 2000 pounds can be sold for more than 100 dollars. Even today there is an average of two casualties per week caused by live bombs or mines.

Besides the unexploded bombs lurking from the ground, you can also find empty bomb casings scattered all around the country. Today, this empty shells that once brought terror and mayhem, are being transformed into everyday objects. People are reusing them and giving them new functions.

Photographer Mark Watson took a bicycle trip across Laos and he was astonished by the things he saw. On the photos he took during the trip, you can see some amazing items that people created using the bomb cases. You can see them made into planter boxes, buckets, cups, cowbells, or even canoes and house foundations. It is ironic how these weapons that destroyed houses are now being used as their foundations.


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