Father and son emerge from Vietnam jungle 40 years after fleeing US bombs

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 August, 2013, 1:19pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 August, 2013, 1:42am

An 82-year-old man and his adult son have been discovered in a jungle tree house more than 40 years after they fled US bombing during the Vietnam war, which ended in 1975.

The father, Ho Van Thanh, was too weak to walk and had to be carried out of the jungle on a hammock, Thanh Nien News reported yesterday.

Ho Van Thanh was last seen running into the woods with his then-infant son Ho Van Lang, now 41, after a bomb exploded in his home, killing his wife and two other children in 1973, the newspaper Dan Tri reported. The father and son stayed in the jungle in Quang Ngai province, living off a small field and even cultivating their own tobacco.

The two men, who also hunted animals, had no contact with the outside world, the report said.

Officials had to walk about 40 kilometres through the jungle to reach the men's hideout. They lived in a house that looks like a bird nest. It was built from sticks in a big tree about six metres off the ground and near a stream.

Ho Van Tri, Thanh's youngest son, who was newly born on the day of the bombing, found his father and brother more than 20 years ago but could not persuade them to return home, said the news website VnExpress.

While in the jungle, the pair wore only loincloths and used a homemade axe to chop down trees. They survived on corn, fruits and cassava roots. The father kept his military trousers neatly folded in a corner as well as the little red coat his son was thought to have been wearing when they fled.

Hoang Anh Ngoc, chairman of the district, said officials had visited Thanh at the medical centre and given him food.

"We asked officials to keep a close eye on the two men to make sure they don't escape back into the forest," he said.

The US dropped about seven million tonnes of bombs on Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia during the military conflict. Hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese civilians died in the hostilities.