The Afterlife of the War in Laos

The HALO Trust organization posted this video showing how much effort it took to destroy a 750 pound bomb found in the village of Ban Nonsômboun, Laos. The bomb was dropped by US planes over forty years ago, but was still active. Altogether, the organization says it took “53 days, 250 people and 200,000 sandbags to safely dispose of the gigantic bomb in Laos which could have killed thousands if it was not found by our team.”


Visitors of this blog know that Laos was subjected to heavy U.S. bombing during the Second Indochina War. Two million tons of bombs were dropped during roughly 600,000 bombing missions between 1964 and 1973. Though we’ll never know how many civilians died or the exact number of casualties caused by the war, its effects were most severe in the northeastern part of the country and in the south along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

One survey conducted in 2010 by Mike Boddington and the Lao National Regulatory Authority estimated that perhaps 50,000 people were injured or killed by unexploded ordnance (UXO) in Laos, and that 40% of recorded casualties actually occurred after 1973, the year that bombing ceased.

And here we are in 2019 with an active bomb that is at least 46 years old, just lingering in the soil with the potential to kill thousands of people, many of whom were not even born during the war. It’s just another example that wars have an afterlife.

4 thoughts on “The Afterlife of the War in Laos

  1. I can’t be 100% sure since I can’t see the name of the village in Lao, but one interpretation of Ban Nonsômboun is ‘Perfect Sleep’. Let’s hope that from now on it can live up to its name.

  2. Pat! Would you believe that my parents and I lived in Ban NonSomboun for a fraction of my life before fleeing to Thailand?! Listen, we’ll have to catch up soon. We won’t in the northeast this summer but maybe next after our youngest is a little older. Take care, buddy!

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