Apocalypse Then and Now
The Vietnam War brought death and destruction to the people of Laos. The landscape is still scarred by American bombing, but there is new hope of a clean-up. Tom Heap reports.
During the Vietnam War two million tons of American bombs were dropped on the tiny nation of Laos, more than the combined weight dropped on Japan and Germany during World War Two. The environmental impact was horrific, destroying forests, killing endangered wildlife and poisoning water supplies. For forty years the people of rural Laos have had to live with the constant fear of stepping on one of the thousands of unexploded bombs that litter the countryside.
Bomb clearance has been partial and sporadic but the sudden influx of mining companies coupled with the building of new roads and hydro-electric dams is speeding things up. Farmland which has been unusable for decades is being bought up, cleared of bombs and sold on to developers. In 'Costing the Earth' Tom Heap and Georgia Catt hear how the tough work of the bomb clearance teams is altering the environment of Laos. Local people may be glad to see the back of the American bombs but the roads and mines that replace them are changing the face of the country forever.
Producer: Alasdair Cross.