The Vietnam War ended 40 years ago, but left a deadly legacy, especially in Laos. The US military dropped more than 2 million tons of bombs on the country during the war between 1964 and 1973, making Laos the most heavily bombed country in the world on a per capita basis. There were more than 580,000 bombing missions on Laos, equivalent to one bombing mission every eight minutes, 24 hours a day, for nine years. Not all of those bombs did what they were supposed to do. An estimated 30 percent of ordnance failed to explode, remaining live in the ground years after the war. They continue to detonate at unexpected places and at unexpected times, such as when children are playing.

Boats made from  fuel tanks seen in a village in Laos.

A major cause of casualties, however, is villagers attempting to open the big bombs to sell the metal and the explosives inside to scrap dealers. A high quality bomb casing weighing up to 2,000 pounds can fetch more than $100. Empty bomb casings that once contained deadly explosives are visible all across the country in new forms — from hollowed out canoes and containers, to props holding houses above flood.

When photographer Mark Watson took a bicycle trip across the country, he was surprised to see these lethal devices being reused in extraordinary ways. “Scrap from such widespread bombing has been utilized in people’s homes and villages,” Watson said, “for everything from house foundations to planter boxes to buckets, cups and cowbells.”

Gathering bomb scraps is a deadly occupation, but the people were forced into the trade by poverty.

"Lots of agricultural land is denied to people because of the presence of UXO (unexploded ordnance), and this is the main problem. It prolongs poverty because people can't do what they need to do. If they know that UXO is present, they will not plow deeply enough to get a good quality crop," said David Hayter, of Mines Advisory Group (MAG), an NGO working to detect and remove mines and bombs.

But progress is slow and their budget limited. Meanwhile, people continue to get killed and injured by accidental detonation of live ordnance. As of 2012, at least 29,000 people have died from such accidents.

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Bonnie and Clyde were America’s dangerous sweethearts. They robbed banks, gasoline stations and stores. They killed police officers. Their notoriety captivated the entire nation. But Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, reared in the West Dallas slums, may have been their biggest fans.

The Depression-era America was enamored with these love-struck outlaws. But historians say, the life of Bonnie and Clyde on the run was far from glamorous. They were clumsy criminals. They didn’t always rob banks, often resorting to stealing small sums of cash from mom-and-pop stores, living out of their stolen cars.

On May 23, 1934, Texas Ranger captain Frank Hamer and his team tracked down Bonnie and Clyde in Louisiana. They set themselves up to ambush the couple on Highway 54. Based on official document, 107 rounds of bullets were shot in less than 2 minutes. Many bullets shot through the car, both bodies, then out the other side. Bonnie and Clyde had been hit 50 times each. And just like that, America’s dangerous lovers were gone. The long awaited justice for America had been served.

Below are rare photos of the ambush aftermath from PDNB Gallery that show the get away car, Texas Ranger Captain, Frank Hamer, and a post mortem of the couple.

Barrow’s stolen Ford V8, 1934

Clyde Barrow, 1934

The bodies of Bonnie and Clyde, 1934

The jacket of the infamous Clyde Barrow, 1934

Bonnie Parker, 1934

Clyde’s bullet riddled Ford V8 Sedan with Texas rangers in the background, 1934

The automobile of Bonnie and Clyde, 1934

Clyde Barrow’s criminal record, 1934

Former Texas ranger, Frank Hamer, and the posse that ended the lives of the notorious Bonnie and Clyde, 1934

Bonnie and Clyde, kissing and embracing, 1933

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Gene Roddenberry’s plane crash-landed in Syrian Desert

He was famous for his classic Star Trek television series, which set the rules for modern sci-fi. But years before Gene Roddenberry became a TV legend, he was nearly killed when his plane lost two engines in mid-flight and burst into flames. It crash-landed in the Syrian Desert.

His story should have ended there had he not saw a light in the distance. He sent two men there while he tended the wounded. It turned out the light belonged to a Syrian military outpost. They were later rescued.

Martin Scorsese nearly died on cocaine overdose

He’s one of the greatest American film directors. But in 1970s, cocaine overdose nearly killed Scorsese. Thanks to Robert de Niro’s intervention, he finally kicked the deadly habit and returned to film the classic Raging Bull.

Clint Eastwood survived one of the strangest plane crashes in history

In 1950, Eastwood hitched a ride on a Navy plane. During the flight, the door below him suddenly sprang open nearly flinging him from the plane. He nearly died from lack of oxygen and passed out.

The pilot was able to save him by crash-landing into the sea, but the impact jettisoned Eastwood into the ocean with its vicious current that almost dragged him to his death. Eastwood had no choice but to summon all his strength and swim like hell to the nearest shore.

Everyone around Nostradamus died of the Black Death

In early 16th century, thousands died every week from the Black Death. People stayed away from infected towns. Not Nostradamus. The young prophet visited plague homes and helped treating the victims. Although his entire family died of the plague, it didn’t seem to affect him.

Nostradamus also survived the Inquisition.

Hernan Cortes was nearly sacrificed to the Aztec god of war

Without Hernan Cortes, modern Mexico would be a much a different place today. But he was off to a bad start not long after landing when he lost 68 men during a raid, in which all them were dragged away to the temple and sacrificed to the Aztec god of war. Cortes luckily escaped.

After a series of skirmishes against the Aztec warriors, the Spanish Conquistador was penned and was on the cusp of death when a loyal soldier, Cristobal de Olea, did a heroic act to save him. Cortes managed to escape at the cost of Cristobal’s life.

George Orwell nearly killed in Spain (twice)

When the civil war broke out in Spain, George Orwell went to fight against the Fascist. He was shot through the neck by a fascist sniper that nearly killed the writer. He luckily survived and went on to write the classics Animal Farm and 1984.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky came within seconds of execution

He’s one of the most influential and greatest writers of our time. But at 28, he was accused of being a part of a revolutionary group and was condemned to death by firing squad.
The soldiers were already aiming their rifles and were seconds to firing when an order from the Tsar came through to spare the young writer’s life. He was sent to do hard labor in Siberia for eight years.

He later wrote the great classical novels such as Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov.

Franklin D. Roosevelt almost died of Spanish flu

The Spanish Flu killed 50 million people worldwide. It also nearly claimed the life of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1918. He was assistant secretary to the Navy at that time when he contracted the killer flu. Fortunately, he survived the scary infection.

Gandhi was nearly lynched

We know him today as one of the greatest leaders in history. But when he was a young lawyer working in South Africa, an angry mob nearly lynched him after he wrote the Green Pamphlet, a controversial treatise that criticized South Africa’s ruling white minority.

After his trip home to India, Gandhi returned to Durban, South Africa, with the mob waiting for him. They battered him with stones and brickbats, and were on the verge of lynching him when the wife of the local Police Superintendent intervened.

She managed to hold the attackers at bay until the police arrived. Thanks to her, Gandhi survived the ordeal and went on to become one of world’s greatest leaders of men.

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