The bodies of 180 victims of North Vietnamese ambushes were given a mass burial in Quang Tri province on Tuesday.
GV Mourners & coffin bearers
SV Coffins carried out (3 shots)
GV Coffin laid on ground, soldier light joss-sticks (2 shots)
SV Women mourns (3 shots)
SV Coffins carried to graves (2 shots)
GV Coffins into graves (2 shots)
SV Woman weeping over coffin
LV Earth thrown onto coffin
Initials SGM/0206 SGM/0158
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Background: The bodies of 180 victims of North Vietnamese ambushes were given a mass burial in Quang Tri province on Tuesday. They wee civilians who had been killed as they tried to escape the Communist advance into the province in May.
Bodies had been collected by villagers during July. Only about 70 could be identified. The funeral was at the burned-out town of Phong Dien -- now the most northerly inhabited township in South Vietnam. Local people paid for the mass funeral themselves.
SYNOPSIS: Phong Dien, the most northerly inhabited town of South Vietnam, was the scene of continuous ambushes earlier this year. It happened while the North Vietnamese advanced into Quang Tri province. During the last few weeks local people have collected the remains of a hundred-and-eighty ambush victims. They were buried at a mass funeral on Tuesday.
Only seventy of the bodies had been identified. The victims had been ambushed while fleeing along the road between Phong Dien and Quang Tri City. For three days, convoys of refugees and wounded soldiers were raked by fire. Hundreds of vehicles littered the road and the number of people who died will probably never be known.
Local people paid for Tuesday' mass funeral. The town of Phong Dien was itself almost entirely burned out during North Vietnamese artillery bombardments early in May. The funeral rites were performed by saffron-robed monks and by a Roman Catholic chaplain in the army, who had been captured by the North Vietnamese but had later escaped.