Da Nang, South Vietnam's second largest city, fell to Communist forces on Sunday. It was?
Da Nang, South Vietnam's second largest city, fell to Communist forces on Sunday. It was the largest single defeat suffered by the Saigon Government in 20 years of fighting.
Deputy Premier Phan Quang Dan announced the fall of the city and told newsmen that there would be an "unavoidably high casualty rate" among the 1,500,000 refugees who he said had poured into the city.
Evacuation attempts succeeded in bringing out a small fraction of the refugees.
The airlift was halted on Saturday (29 March) when scenes of panic broke out as the last aircraft landed. Soldiers shot one another in the scramble to get aboard the aircraft. The flight to Saigon was meant to be for civilians. When the aircraft landed it was found there were only three among the more than 300 soldiers aboard.
Meanwhile a sea-borne evacuation had started. One U.S. cargo ship, the Pioneer Contender, loaded 7,000 refugees as well as the staff of the U.S. Consulate and other foreigners in the city. Small boats and barges containing thousands of refugees made their way alongside the ship when it was seen loading civilians. Most of the refugees could not be taken aboard.
The ship took its load to Cam Ranh Bay in the south and returned to Da Nang Bay. By nightfall on Sunday (30 March) it -- along with other evacuating craft -- was anchored off the port waiting for the situation on shore to clarify itself before attempting further evacuations.