As Highway One -- the crucial road link between Saigon and the embattled city of Xuan Loc, some 50 miles (80 kilometres) northeast of the capital -- remained cut on Friday (18 April) by communist forces -- the refugee situation was becoming almost as critical as the military.
LV Enemy position
SV AND CU Troops firing 105 guns (3 shots)
SV Personnel carrier under trees
LV Smoke from air attack
CU AND SV Dead soldiers under mats (2 shots)
GV Refugees down Highway One
SV Refugees through troop barrier (3 shots)
GV Refugees heading south
SV Refugees at Long Thanh rushing for bread from truck (2 shots)
GV AND SV Food being distributed to refugees (4 shots)
SV Refugees scrambling for milk from Red Cross (5 shots)
GV Saigon marketplace
SV Troops by roadside
SV AND CU Food stall in market (3 shots)
CU Money changing hands (4 shots)
GV AND CU Rockets fired at Tan-Hoa-Thanh (5 shots)
SV Personnel carrier through hamlet
GV Troops searching abandoned houses
SV Troops inspecting enemy weapons (2 shots)
GV Troops among banana trees
Initials CL/0206 CL/0137
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Background: As Highway One -- the crucial road link between Saigon and the embattled city of Xuan Loc, some 50 miles (80 kilometres) northeast of the capital -- remained cut on Friday (18 April) by communist forces -- the refugee situation was becoming almost as critical as the military.
Communist rockets and mortars have all but cleared the civilian population out of the area, with thousands of refugees streaming down the highway toward the major air base of Bien Hoa and Saigon itself. But military observers reported that the communist attackers appeared to have bypassed Xuan Loc and were heading themselves for Bien Hoa and Saigon, having outflanked government forces.
The road-jam not only made the defenders' position more difficult but increased the threat of communist infiltrations among the ranks of the refugees.
Communist forces also were exerting heavy pressure on Phan Thiet, the last government stronghold on the central coast following the fall of Phan Rang on Wednesday (16 April), Saigon military sources said. And on Thursday night, Viet Cong sappers penetrated to within six miles (10 kilometres) of the heart of Saigon itself when they attacked the massive American-built strategic communications centre at Phu Lam.
But many observers saw the greatest threat of all in the Mekong Delta to the south, where communist forces were reported to have infiltrated three more district towns only 20 miles (32 kilometres) from Saigon in what appeared to be the strongest attempt yet to cut off the capital from its food supplies. And 37 miles (60 kilometres) southwest of the capital -- in the heart of the rich rice-growing Delta -- Government forces were conducting continuous search-and-destroy missions around the hamlet of Tan-Hoa-Thanh in an attempt to keep the enemy from opening up another major front.