Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange will proceed with their fourth lawsuit against US chemical companies that produced the toxic defoliant sprayed by US forces during the American War in Vietnam .

Major General Tran Ngoc Tho, head of the Association of Victims of Agent Orange/dioxin in Ho Chi Minh City, made the announcement at a recent ceremony marking the 52nd anniversary of the day US troops began to spray large parts of Vietnam with herbicides that contain the extremely toxic dioxin (August 10, 1961).

Speaking at the ceremony that was broadcast live on August 10, Tho told the audience of AO victims and officials that the three earlier lawsuits had been rejected with the explanation that there was not enough evidence. He called on AO victims to be patient and wait for victory.

More than 20,000 AO victims from various parts of Vietnam live in Ho Chi Minh City .

Tho said with 86 million litres of Agent Orange and other herbicides sprayed on Vietnam over a period of ten years, their impact has been estimated as equivalent to that of 51 atomic bombs akin to those dropped by the US on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

The toxic defoliant has affected 4.8 million people and resulted in tens of thousands of children being born with deformities, cerebral palsy and various forms of mental illnesses.

In recent years, the US has funded a landmark project to clean up a dioxin hotspot – the site of a former US air base in Da Nang City in central Vietnam where the toxic chemical was stored.-VNA