Heavy fighting raged Sunday (28 May) in the streets of Kontum, in South Vietnam's Central Highlands region, with Communist reinforcements moving into the city under cover of night.
GV aircraft strafing Kontum suburbs (2 shots)
GV quiet street
SV soldiers past - zoom into wrecked building collapsing into street
SV refugees leaving with belongings and boarding truck (4 shots)
GV refugees waiting with belongings
GV, SV, CU refugees boarding helicopter (2 shots)
MV and GV refugees being taken off helicopter (2 shots)
SV and GV people running for cover
GV ammunition airdrops (2 shots)
SV wounded soldiers carried from aircraft (3 shots)
SV chopper takes off
SV airman at gun position
GV, AN, SV tanks on Highway-13 (3 shots)
SV troops relaxing (3 shots)
CU soldier talking on radio-telephone
CU soldiers looking through field glasses
SV soldiers in group around light artillery piece
GV bombs exploding in enemy-held territory (2 shots)
AIRCRAFT STRAFING COMMUNIST-HELD AREAS OF KONTUM; STREET SCENES IN KONTUM - DAMAGE, REFUGEES, TROOPS; HELICOPTERS BRINGING IN SUPPLIES; REFUGEES TRYING TO BOARD HELICOPTERS, BEING REMOVED; TANKS ON HIGHWAY-13; TROOPS, LOOKING THROUGH FIELD-GLASSES, AROUND ARTILLERY PIECE; SHELLS EXPLODING.
ARTHUR LORD (NBC) "Kontum has ceased to function as a city. Almost everything is closed in Kontum - there is very little food. What hasn't been destroyed by North Vietnamese artillery has been locked up or abandoned. Most of the people want to leave the city before the main attack comes, but there's no easy way out. The only road leading out of Kontum is controlled by the North Vietnamese. They also control the airfield. There wait for government helicopters which never seem to come. When the evacuation helicopters do come there is a great crush to get aboard."
BRIAN BARREN (BBC) "It's like a mad scramble for the lifeboats of a sinking ship. This helicopter was so over loaded that it couldn't get airborne. People had to be pulled off bodily. Panic broke easily in this tense city. No place is really safe when shrapnel starts flying. Little attempt has been made to build shelters for the citizens. Now airdrops by American planes have begun - an ominous sign. Most of the planes drop ammunition. None can actually land because Communist troops are around the airfield. The dead, the dying and the wounded - they all come out by air. South Vietnamese losses are severe, but no-one will give an accurate figure: it might be politically damaging for Saigon. Perhaps a thousand North Vietnamese troops have already died around this city. The Chinooks fly a shuttle service to bring in supplies and take out people. Each one's airborne ten hours a day.."
REX ELLIS (NBC) "The South Vietnamese push along Highway-13 to relieve An Loc has completely bogged down. These troops and the tanks wit them have been here for almost two weeks. American advisers keep trying to persuade the South Vietnamese to push up the Highway from this point ten miles south of An Loc. The South Vietnamese are reluctant to move. Their commanders say they are worried about the North Vietnamese coming in behind them and cutting them off. The job of trying to clear out the North Vietnamese is left to air-strikes and artillery. There are about two enemy battalions in the area."
In South Vietnam, Communist-held sectors of the key Central Highlands city of Kontum continued to be pounded Sunday by United States and South Vietnamese bomber It was the fourth day of bitter fighting for the strategic centre. The North Vietnamese were reported to have massed thirty-thousand troops in the area, and frantic civilians inside the city were desperately seeking ways to escape. The Communists controlled both the only road out, and the other life-line, the airfield
The one real hope for civilians is the Government helicopter - and when it comes there's a great rush to get aboard.
This helicopter was so overloaded that it couldn't get airborne, and people had to be pulled off bodily
Little attempt has been made to build shelter for the citizens, so no place is really safe when the shrapnel starts flying
Because of the Communist troops around the airfield American aircraft re unable to land; they drop their supplies, and for the most part these consist of ammunition.
South Vietnamese losses are serious, but no reliable figure is obtainable. The North Vietnamese too have suffered heavily - some reports say a thousand Communist troops had died around Kontum by Sunday. With such determined opposition from the North Vietnamese forces the helicopters' daily shuttle service in and out of the city has become essential to the Southern troops Each helicopter is airborne ten hours a day.
Further south - on the vital highway-13 linking Saigon with another besieged city, Al Loc - a Government relief force was bogged down miles from its objective. These troops have been in almost the same spot for nearly two weeks. American advisers have been trying to persuade them to continue the push towards An Loc, but South Vietnamese commanders say their men are worried about being cut off by the Communists from behind.
So, the job of clearing the North Vietnamese is left to air-strikes and artillery.
Initials JM/17.16 BT/BO'E/JM/1801
original on 6847/72 620ft
This telerecording - consisting of three reports by Arthur Lord and Rex Ellis of the American National Broadcasting Company and Brian Barren of the British Broadcasting Corporation - shows the situation in Kontum and along Highway-13 as on Sunday (Mar 28). The situation had changed little by Tuesday (May 30) although one unconfirmed report claimed that Communist troops had been driven out of the southern and south eastern parts of Kontum.
This telerecording carries natural sound throughout under the commentaries by the NBC and BBC reporters. An alternative, written commentary is also
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Heavy fighting raged Sunday (28 May) in the streets of Kontum, in South Vietnam's Central Highlands region, with Communist reinforcements moving into the city under cover of night.
Kontum, a prime objective of the North Vietnamese forces, who are reported to have massed thirty thousand troops in the area had been the centre of fierce fighting for four days before. United States and South Vietnamese aircraft bombed the Communist-occupied parts of the city daily, and helicopters supplying the South Vietnamese defenders were mobbed by frantic civilians trying to fight their way aboard to escape the battle zone.
Further south, on the vital Highway-13 linking Saigon with the besieged provincial capital of An Loc, a Government relief column was still bogged down short of its objective, despite the urging of American advisers that the push to the city be carried through.