Report: Tourist death in Vietnam not from poison
Cathy Huynh, left, and Kari Bowerman took this photo in Vietnam on July 23, seven days before they were first admitted to the hospital.
September 19th, 2012
09:25 AM ET

Report: Tourist death in Vietnam not from poison

Tourists Karin Bowerman, 27, of Wisconsin, and Cathy Huynh, 26, of Ontario, died mysteriously just days apart this summer in Nha Trang, Vietnam. Since then, family and friends have waited anxiously for the autopsy results.

Speculation on the women’s cause of death ranged from alcohol poisoning to insecticide poisoning. But authorities are now saying there were no traces of toxins in Bowerman’s blood or gastric fluids, according to the Tuoi Tre News, an English-language news site operated by Vietnam’s largest newspaper.

“She died from breathing failures, circulatory collapse due to brain edema,” Lt. Col. Nguyen Hong Ky, deputy head of the Nha Trang police department, told Tuoi Tre News. Brain edema is a buildup of fluid in the brain. The official autopsy report has not been publicly released.

On July 30, Bowerman and Huynh were admitted to Khanh Hoa General Hospital; both were vomiting, had difficulty breathing and showed signs of severe dehydration.

Bowerman died later that night. Huynh was released from the hospital and died two days later. Bowerman’s body underwent an autopsy in Vietnam, according to her family, while Huynh’s body was returned to Canada to be examined in Hamilton, Ontario.

Tuoi Tre News reported earlier that Bowerman’s medical samples had not been sent to Hanoi, Vietnam, for testing as late as two weeks after her death. The director of the local forensic examination center told Tuoi Tre News that the wait period could affect the results, even if the samples were well preserved.

The autopsy results from Huynh are not expected for several weeks.

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Filed under: Health • Travel • Vietnam
June 4th, 2012
04:55 AM ET

Decades after war, US and Vietnam swap slain troops' papers

Nearly four decades after the end of the Vietnam War, the United States and Vietnam exchanged personal papers taken from the dead bodies of each others' troops for the first time, the Pentagon announced Monday.

On a historic visit to Hanoi, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta handed over a diary taken by a U.S. Marine from the body of Vietnamese soldier Vu Dinh Doan in 1966.

In exchange, Vietnamese Defense Minister Phuong Quang Thanh gave Panetta letters taken from the body of U.S. Army Sgt. Steve Flaherty in 1969 and later used in Vietnamese propaganda broadcasts.

A top Vietnamese colonel, Nguyen Phu Dat, had kept the letters since the war, and mentioned them last summer in an online publication about documents from the war years.

A retired Pentagon prisoner of war and missing in action expert ran across the reference a few months later, the Department of Defense said.

The Pentagon and State Department then worked with counterparts in Vietnam to arrange the handover of the Flaherty letters to Panetta, who will have them returned to Flaherty's family.

While the Flaherty letters remained in Vietnam, Robert Frazure of the U.S. Marine Corps brought the Vu Dihn Doan diaries home to Walla Walla, Washington, and kept them after his discharge from the military.

He later gave them to the sister of one of his buddies killed in the war as she researched the conflict. She passed them to the PBS program "The History Detectives," who tracked down Vu Dihn Doan's family and gave the diary to American officials to hand back.

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Filed under: U.S. • Vietnam • World
Last rare rhinoceros in Vietnam killed by poacher, group says
The killing of the last Javan rhinoceros means the population is gone forever from Vietnam, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
October 25th, 2011
09:40 AM ET

Last rare rhinoceros in Vietnam killed by poacher, group says

Vietnam's rare Javan rhinoceros was declared extinct in that area after poachers killed the last remaining animal in the country for its horns, the World Wildlife Fund said.

“Vietnam must see this loss as another warning sign of its looming wave of species extinctions,” Dr. Barney Long, WWF’s Asian species expert, said in a statement. “The single most important action that is needed to save remaining threatened species like tigers and elephants is protection.”

The country had been struggling to keep the population alive amid widespread poaching that the WWF said was the cause of many Asian rhino species being brought to the "brink of extinction."


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Filed under: Rhinos • Vietnam
October 19th, 2011
07:30 AM ET

More than 700 dead as flooding hits southeast Asian countries

At least 745 people have died in flooding in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and the Philippines since July, the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific said.

Thailand has been hit the hardest, with 315 people killed in that time frame, officials said.

Monsoon rains across Thailand have affected millions of people in 61 of its provinces, the country's Flood Relief Operation Command reported.

Cambodia, meanwhile, reported 247 dead since July.

- CNN's Kocha Olarn contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Cambodia • Flooding • Laos • Philippines • Thailand • Vietnam • Weather
U.S. warships arrive in Vietnam
The guided-missile destroyer USS Preble is one of the U.S. ships visiting Vietnam.
July 15th, 2011
11:25 AM ET

U.S. warships arrive in Vietnam

Three U.S. Navy ships arrived Friday - as welcome guests - at the Vietnamese port of Da Nang.

The visit is part of a seven-day celebration of the 16th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two former enemies, the Navy said in a press release.

The 7th Fleet delegation consists of the guided-missile destroyers USS Chung-Hoon and USS Preble, the rescue and salvage ship USNS Safeguard, additional sailors from the Logistics Group Western Pacific command, and a mobile diving and salvage team.

The Safeguard underwent repairs at a Vietnamese shipyard in 2009, the Navy said.

Territorial tensions have risen in recent weeks between Vietnam and China over the South China Sea, but the U.S. says the visit is a planned training mission focusing on "non-combatant events and skills exchanges in areas such as navigation and maintenance."

U.S. Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen just ended a four-day visit to China on Wednesday.

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Filed under: China • Military • U.S. Navy • Vietnam
Legendary turtle nursed back to health
Lesions are visible on the flippers and head of a soft-shelled turtle after it was removed from a Vietnam lake in April.
July 13th, 2011
02:05 PM ET

Legendary turtle nursed back to health

A large, soft-shelled turtle linked to Vietnamese mythology has been returned to the wild after three months of treatment, according to media reports.

"Her health condition is good, no more ulcers on the body," said Le Xuan Rao, director of Hanoi's Department of Science and Technology, the Bangkok (Thailand) Post reported. "Everything went smoothly."

The female turtle, one of just four of its kind (Rafetus swinhoei) known to exist, was captured in Hanoi's Hoan Kiem lake in April when its skin lesions and other injuries were noticed, according to VietNamNet Bridge.

The turtle weighs 372 pounds and is probably more than 100 years old, the Bangkok Post reported. The lake has been cleaned up and stocked with fish species the turtle eats, VietNamNet Bridge reported.

It was popularly known as The Great-Grandfather before it was captured and its sex determined, according to

According to the Bangkok paper, all Vietnamese schoolchildren are taught that the 15th century rebel leader Le Loi used a magical sword to drive out Chinese invaders. One day while boating on Hoan Kiem lake, Le Loi encountered a turtle. The animal took Le Loi's sacred sword and dived to the bottom, keeping the weapon safe for the next time foreigners invaded Vietnam, the story goes.

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Filed under: Animals • Turtles • Vietnam
Man believed to be last Vietnam-era draftee set to retire after 39 years
Command Sgt. Maj. Jeff Mellinger's military service stretched from the Vietnam era to Iraq and Afghanistan.
July 5th, 2011
11:33 AM ET

Man believed to be last Vietnam-era draftee set to retire after 39 years

When Command Sgt. Maj. Jeff Mellinger got a draft card in the mail at his home in Eugene, Oregon, 39 years ago, the military wasn't exactly a popular option - or one he desired.

He told officials he had a job, he didn't need a new one. But he didn't have a choice. So on April 18, 1972, he donned a military uniform and prepared for service. And he's been doing it ever since.

That is, until now. Mellinger, believed to be the last of about 2 million men drafted in the Vietnam War era, is set to retire.

"I'm a relic," Mellinger told Time magazine in 2009.  "Most of them are surprised I'm still breathing, because in their minds I'm older than dirt.

"But they're even more surprised when they find out this dinosaur can still move around pretty darn quick."

Mellinger never expected his life to turn out this way.

Mellinger first was an office clerk in what was then West Germany, according to CNN affiliate KWTX-TV.  By his own admission, because of concerns about how the Army was working, he was looking forward to completing two years of service. As soon as his time was up, he would hang up his boots and head for the hills.

"I was dead-set on getting out," he told Time.

But then an opportunity arose that would change the course of his life. Mellinger was offered a spot in the coveted Army Rangers, according to the military. After being drafted during the Vietnam era, he continued on in the military. Years later, following the September 11 attacks, he would head down to ground zero to help out as part of the First Army.

He also served 34 months in Iraq, where he was the senior ranking enlisted man. KWTX reports he survived at least 27 roadside bombings there.

The accolades for the man known as "All Army" appear never-ending.


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Filed under: Afghanistan • Iraq • Military • U.S. • Vietnam
Agent Orange buried in S. Korea, vets say
U.S. soldiers load tanks onto rail cars at Camp Carroll in South Korea. Three veterans say Agent Orange is buried there.
May 20th, 2011
02:57 PM ET

Agent Orange buried in S. Korea, vets say

The U.S. military command in South Korea says it is investigating veterans' claims that they buried barrels of the toxic herbicide Agent Orange at a U.S. facility there in the late 1970s.

Arizona resident Steve House told CNN affiliate KPHO in Phoenix that in 1978, he was ordered to dig a long trench for "disposal" at Camp Carroll, where he was stationed as an Army heavy equipment operator.

He wasn't told what would be buried in the trench, but he says he saw it.

"Fifty-five-gallon drums with bright yellow, some of them bright orange, writing on them," House told KPHO. "And some of the cans said Province of Vietnam, Compound Orange."

The U.S. military sprayed Agent Orange from planes onto jungles in Vietnam to kill vegetation in an effort to expose guerrilla fighters. Exposure to the chemical has been blamed for a wide variety of ailments, including certain forms of cancer and nerve disorders. It also has been linked to birth defects, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The military has always said that all leftover Agent Orange was incinerated at sea, but it is investigating nonetheless.


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Filed under: Health • Military • South Korea • Vietnam • War • World
Reserve established for one of world's rarest animals
The rarity of the saola gives it mythical status in some parts of Asia, with some referring to it as Asia's "unicorn."
April 13th, 2011
07:02 PM ET

Reserve established for one of world's rarest animals

Vietnamese officials are setting up a nature reserve to protect one of the world's rarest animals, the saola, sometimes known as Asia's "unicorn."

A few hundred are believed to remain in the wild, inhabiting the Annamite Mountains along the border of Vietnam and Laos in Southeast Asia, according to the World Wildlife Fund, which, along with the Quang Nam Provincial Forest Protection Department, announced the establishment of the Saola Nature Reserve in the province.

None of the animals are in captivity, and the few that have been caught have survived only a short time, including one that villagers in Laos captured last year.

“The establishment of this new Saola Nature Reserve shows a strong commitment by the Vietnamese government and Quang Nam Province in the conservation of this highly threatened endemic species,” said Tran Minh Hien, country director of WWF-Vietnam, said in a press release. “This new reserve will create a biodiversity corridor connecting the East of Vietnam to West side of Xe Sap National Park in Laos.”


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Filed under: Animals • Nature • Vietnam
Gotta watch: 'The Wall', remembering Geraldine Ferraro, Heaven's gate suicides
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial holds the names of 58,267 men and women who were killed or remain missing in action.
March 26th, 2011
02:55 PM ET

Gotta watch: 'The Wall', remembering Geraldine Ferraro, Heaven's gate suicides

1982: Groundbreaking at Vietnam Memorial – On March 27th 1982 a group of 125 veterans gathered between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument to break ground at the future site of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Vietnam veteran Jan Scruggs spearheaded the movement to lobby congress and raise money through private funds to build the memorial. The black granite wall holds the names of 58,267 men and women who were killed or remain missing in action.


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Filed under: Democratic Party • Gotta Watch • Military • New York • Obituary • Politics • Uncategorized • Veterans • Vietnam • War
Report: 27 fishermen missing in South China Sea
December 16th, 2010
09:02 AM ET

Report: 27 fishermen missing in South China Sea

At least 27 fishermen were missing after a Vietnam-registered vessel sank in the South China Sea, China's state-run news agency Xinhua reported on Thursday, citing maritime rescue authorities.

Strong gales caused the Phu Tan to capsize and sink and the fishermen fell overboard, the report said.

The accident occurred about 110 nautical miles to the west of Sanya City in the southern island province of Hainan, a South China Sea Salvage Bureau spokesman said.

A rescue vessel was headed to the site of the sinking, and a towboat was ordered to assist.

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Filed under: China • Vietnam
October 7th, 2010
11:53 AM ET

In Vietnam, death toll rises from flooding

The death toll from devastating floods in central Vietnam now stands at 48, state-run news reports said Thursday, citing emergency officials

At least 19 people have been injured and 41 ships sank or were damaged as the government urgently pursued measures to deal with the disaster. Flooding has inundated more than 100,000 dwellings and has caused millions of dollars in damage, the reports said.

More than 900 troops were sent to help with rescue operations, with hundreds of flotation aids, more than 1.5 million tons of food and 2.5 million liters (656,250 gallons) of water.

Central Vietnam has seen record rainfall this week, with some areas getting twice as much rain as is normal for this time of year. The flooding there is the latest in a series of deadly floods across the world recently.

Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai inspected the flood-hit central region, including the worst-flooded district of Quang Trach, news reports said.

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Filed under: Vietnam
August 22nd, 2010
08:44 PM ET

Pakistan's temperatures soar; Europe braces for storms

As Pakistan flood recovery efforts continue, the temperatures and heat indices are soaring.

On Sunday the heat indices were once again in the mid 50s Celsius (130 Fahrenheit) across much of southern and central Pakistan. Although most of the country has seen little rain over the past few days, the incredibly high temperatures and humidity have made for difficult living conditions for the millions of people that have been displaced from their homes.

Temperatures above 40 C (104 F) and heat indices into the lower 50s C (120s F) will continue at least into the early part of this week.

In Europe, a strong low pressure will move across the United Kingdom and towards Scandinavia on Monday. Severe weather warnings are in place for southern England, including London. Strong winds and up to 8 centimeters (3 inches) of rain will be possible, which could lead to flash flooding.


Filed under: France • Mexico • Pakistan • Poland • United Kingdom • Vietnam • Weather • World
July 27th, 2010
10:41 PM ET

Group: Dams would doom Mekong River's giant catfish

The Mekong giant catfish is the world's third-largest freshwater fish species, the WWF says.

Dams proposed for the Mekong River in Southeast Asia would drive the world’s third-largest freshwater fish species to virtual extinction, according to a World Wildlife Fund report

Any of the 11 hydropower dams planned for the river’s mainstream south of China would prevent the Mekong giant catfish from migrating to its spawning grounds, the WWF said Tuesday in a news release. 

The catfish, with a maximum length and weight of nearly 10 feet and about 770 pounds, are too big to swim across such dams, said Dekila Chungyalpa, director of WWF’s Greater Mekong Program. 


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Filed under: Animals • Cambodia • Laos • Thailand • Vietnam • World