Man and son found in jungle after 40yrs

Man and son found in jungle after 40yrs

Hanoi - An 82-year-old man and his 41-year-old son were found living in a jungle in central Vietnam after they went missing during the country's war with the United States, relatives and local officials said Thursday.

Found: Ho Van Lang, 41, has been living in the jungle of Vietnam since he was two years old (EPA)

The older man could communicate a little in the Cor ethnic minority language, but his son only knew a few words, an official at Tay Tra commune in Quang Ngai province said on condition of anonymity.

A handout photo made available by Thanhnienonline shows Ho Van Lang (purple shirt), and his father Ho Van Thanh (lying in a hammock) who were found in the jungle in Vietnam. The 82-year-old and his 41-year-old son apparently went missing during the country's war with the USA 40 years ago. The two men allegedly survived by cultivating forest vegetables and hunting animals and had no contact with the outside world. (EPA)

Ho Van Thanh was last seen running into the woods with his then infant son Ho Van Lang after a bomb exploded in his home, killing his wife and two eldest sons in 1973, newspaper Dan Tri reported.

They were discovered when two people from a nearby village ventured 40 kilometres into the forest looking for firewood and spotted the two men's treehouse. 

The villagers reported the find to local authorities who recovered the pair on Wednesday.

The two men survived by cultivating vegetables and hunting animals. They had no contact with the outside world, the report said.

Photographs showed the younger man with dishevelled hair wearing a loin cloth made from tree bark. The men were also found to have made shirts out of the same material. 

Thanh, who was fighting for North Vietnam when the bomb exploded, left behind another son, Ho Van Tri.

"My father is very weak and the doctors are taking care of him, but my brother's health is fine even though he looks very thin," said Tri, who was six months old when his father fled into the jungle.

Thanh is being treated at a medical centre while his son is being looked after by his nephew, Ho Ven Bien.

"My uncle doesn't understand much of what is said to him, and he doesn't want to eat or even drink water," Bien told dpa.

"He's very sad. He doesn't say anything now," he said. "We know he wants to escape my house to go back to the forest so we have to keep an eye on him now."

A man inspects bark shirts made by a Vietnamese father and son who had apparently been living in the jungle for 40 years.  (EPA)

Hoang Anh Ngoc, chairman of the district, said local authorities had visited Thanh at the medical centre and given him food.

"I asked officials to keep a close eye on the two men to make sure they don't escape back into the forest," he told dpa.

The discovery has shaken the small community, which thought the two men dead.

"No one could imagine Thanh and his son could live 40 years in isolation in the hard conditions of the jungle," said villager Ho Van Xanh.

There are more than 33,800 Cor members living in Vietnam, mostly in a few districts in Quang Ngai and neighbouring Quang Nam province.

Of the 18,500 people living in Tay Tra district, 95% belong to the Cor ethnic group, district chairman Ngoc said.

They make a living mostly from farming cassava, grains and cinnamon.

In the past, all family names were given as "Dinh" but since the war it has been replaced with "Ho" in honour of North Vietnam's first president and revolutionary hero Ho Chi Minh.

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