Vietnam dad, son who fled war in ’72 brought out of jungle

AFP-JIJI

Vietnamese authorities are trying to reintegrate a father and son back into their home village after they allegedly fled war four decades ago to live deep in the forest, an official said Saturday.

Ho Van Thanh, 82, and his son, Ho Van Lang, 42, emerged from the remote mountainous region Wednesday in emaciated condition, wearing loincloths made from tree bark.

A former communist soldier, Thanh ran away with his then 2-year-old son Lang in 1972 from a village in central Quang Ngai province.

He was grief-stricken after the death of his mother and two of his other children in a U.S. bombing raid, local official Hoang Anh Ngoc said.

“The son is afraid of the crowds. He will not talk to strangers . . . but he talks inside their family,” Ngoc said, adding authorities will spend about $2,300 to build the men a house near relatives.

Television footage showed authorities apparently taking the pair against their will from their forest hut, with the frail old man carried in a hammock while the son was pictured with restraints around his hands.

The pair “were dressed only in loincloths made of tree bark,” the newspaper Tuoi Tre said Friday. The pair can speak little of their ethnic Kor language. They were first brought back home by a younger son in 2004, the Dan Tri online newspaper reported Friday, quoting local authorities, but they could not adapt to living in the village and returned to their forest home.