Vietnamese Men Emerge From Jungle 40 Years After War, Have Had No Contact With Outside World

In the midst of the Vietnam War, after a bomb destroyed his family home and killed his wife and two of his sons, a desperate father grabbed his infant boy and fled into the forest.

There they stayed for 40 years, where, if Vietnamese media are to be believed, they lived in the wild and made no attempts to contact the outside world. Viet Nam News, an English news service, reports locals from the Tra Xinh Commune in Tay Tra District spotted the two several days ago and alerted police, who found them in a remote patch of jungle, living in a handmade hut, lifted several feet off the forest floor.

The father, Ho Van Thanh, who is now 82, was reportedly quite ill and brought to a hospital. His son, Ho Van Lang, 41, also emerged, and is said to be overwhelmed by his new surroundings.

"They still feel frightened despite being taken to an isolated area," Le Van Vuong, vice chairman of Tra Xinh Commune, told DTI News, another English Vietnamese outlet. "People who just come to stare at them bothered them the most. They do not know how to speak the Kinh people’s language. They just know a few words of Cor ethnic minority people's language and use body language to express themselves.”

"My uncle doesn't understand much of what is said to him, and he doesn't want to eat or even drink water," nephew Ho Ven Bien told the Australian Associated Press. He said he was aware of his uncle's disappearance long ago but did not expect he was alive.

A series of photos obtained by Báo Quang Ngai shows various tools the pair appear to have fashioned to survive in the forest. Among them are a hammer fashioned with shrapnel, handmade knives with iron blades scavenged from the jungle, loincloths woven from tree bark and bamboo storage containers to keep rice dry.

According to Thanh Nien News, the father and son had a daily diet including cassava (a starchy root), corn and wild leaves. They also cultivated and smoked tobacco.

ho van thanh

WATCH a Vietnamese news report of the missing men: