As the communist offensive encircled the city of Quang Tri in South Vietnam, thousands of civilian refugees -- and South Vietnamese troops -- streamed southwards down Highway One to the old Imperial capital of Hue.
GV & MV Refugees on trucks leaving Quang Tri
MV Refugees walking (2 shots)
SV Refugees in truck
MV Refugees trying to cruch into refugee compound
MV American adviser by compounds barbed wire fence
MV Refugees questioned, entering compound (2 shots)
MV Sign: "Restricted Area" TILT DOWN AND PAN crowds of refugees sitting on floor
MV & CU Refugee children sleeping in compound (3 shots)
SV Official calls out names, refugees given orders to board helicopter (3 shots)
MV Refugees on ground PAN TO helicopter flying off
South Vietnamese deserter removed from compound
Initials ??? OS/059
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Background: As the communist offensive encircled the city of Quang Tri in South Vietnam, thousands of civilian refugees -- and South Vietnamese troops -- streamed southwards down Highway One to the old Imperial capital of Hue.
The order to abandon Quang Tri city, 20 miles south of the demilitarized zone dividing the two Vietnams, was given on Monday afternoon (May 1) after being delayed to reduce the risk of panic.
Quang Tri is the first provincial capital to be captured by the North Vietnamese since their troops and tanks crossed the demilitarised zone five weeks ago -- and the fall of the city leaves no natural defence barriers along the road to Hue, generally expected to be the next target of the communist offensive.
Reports from Saigon said the government's Third Regular Army Division was decimated by casualties in three days of heavy shelling by communist troops -- themselves under almost constant serial attack by United States bomber aircraft.
Other reports from the South Vietnamese capital estimated the number of refugees at about 100,000 people with a high army desertion rats. Many soldiers discarded their uniforms and weapons and headed south wearing only their underclothes. One soldier, wearing a woman's dress, was removed from a refuges compound after trying to escape by helicopter.
The fall of Quang Tri has given North Vietnamese troops control of the entire province -- pushing the battle lines nearly 15 miles (25km) further south.
In the meantime, military sources said, United States and South Vietnamese aircraft carried out an unprecedented 435 air strikes on and around the city on Monday -- a bombardment that was being continued today (May 2). No movement could be detected inside the city, the sources added.