• Short Summary

    As the intensity of fighting increases in South Vietnam, so do the casualties. Nowhere is?

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    As the intensity of fighting increases in South Vietnam, so do the casualties. Nowhere is this fact of war reflected more dramatically than at South vietnam's Armed Forces' Cemetery at the town of Bien Hoa, 12 miles (19 kilometres) North of Saigon. In recent weeks alone, the number of burials there has doubled.

    Before the renewed upsurge in fighting, the number of military burials at the Bien Hoa cemetery averaged 30 a day. But in the six weeks since the North Vietnamese launched their most recent offensive -- which has seen them capture complete control of Phuoc Long province -- that figure has soared to 65.

    Freshly-dug graves appear throughout the day and night -- so many, in fact, that Bien Hoa is suffering from an acute shortage of grave-diggers. There are now more than 20,000 South Vietnamese soldiers buried at Bien Hoa, where army privates lie side by side with their commanding officers.

    The South Vietnamese Army pays for every funeral and burial at the Bien hoa cemetery, and the family of each soldier buried there receives a year's pay from the army.

    But the Armed Forces Cemetery is not reserved for casualties from the combat zones close to Saigon. It is the final resting place for all South Vietnam's dead fighting men whose bodies can be retrieved and brought there -- and as a result of the two-week-old battle for the central-coast town of Hoai Hori Nhon, 300 miles away (500 kilometres), 200 more graves have been dug at Bien Hoa.

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    Reuters - Including Visnews
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