Social News 29/5
Fire rips apart nearly 2,000sq.m factory in HCM City
Firefighters try to put out the blaze.
A fire broke out at a wet wipes manufacturing company in Quang Trung industrial cluster in HCM City early Monday morning.
It quickly spread to a nearby printing and packages company destroying more than half of both properties.
As firefighters battled the 4am blaze, locals desperately tried to remove flammable materials from the storage facilities.
At its height, 130 firefighters fought to control the flames and it was eventually extinguished after about three hours.
Although no one was injured during the blaze, the fire did destroy around 1,700sq.m of the total 2,600sq.m of factory.
The cause is currently under investigation.
VWU launches contest to promote food safety, hygiene
A safe food fair organised in the framework of the campaign on promoting the production and trade of safe food and agricultural products. — Photo courtesy of the VWU
A national competition to create photos, writing, videos and screenplays to raise awareness of food safety and hygiene has kicked off.
The competition is open for Vietnamese people at home and abroad as well as foreigners living in Việt Nam.
The contest was organised by Việt Nam Women’s Union (VWU). Entrants can send their work to the organising board from now to July 26.
Nguyễn Thị Tuyết, vice chairwoman of the VWU, said the contest looks for ideas to communicate food safety and hygiene to the public. She expects that the contest will help people produce and sell safe food, and instruct consumers to identify safe and unsafe food.
It’s a part of a campaign on promoting the production and trade of safe food and agricultural products, which was held in Hà Nội on Sunday. Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam attended the event and stressed that the Government appreciates co-ordination in ensuring food hygiene and safety.
He noted with pleasure that over the past two years, co-ordination among the Government, ministries, sectors, localities and social organisations has brought positive developments for food safety.
He stressed that in addition to strengthening State management of food safety, it is necessary to raise public awareness and knowledge regarding the harms of unsafe food, which threaten people’s health.
With improved knowledge, customers can distinguish between safe and unsafe food while producers can apply and develop safe production chain models and food supply chains, he explained.
Every producer and business must be made aware of their legal and ethical responsibilities in ensuring food safety, he said. He also asked for the strict inspection and handling of violations in cases related to food safety.
Fee at Tiên Cựu toll booth to reduce
Under 12-seater cars, under two-tonne trucks and city public buses will enjoy the fee exemption policy while passing through the Tiên Cựu Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) toll booth in Tiên Lãng District.
The Ministry of Transport (MoT) recently sent an official document to the Directorate for Roads of Việt Nam and Tasco Company, the project’s investor, on fee reduction for vehicles driving through Tiên Cựu BOT toll booth located on National Highway No.10 in the northern coastal city of Hải Phòng, following the directorate’s earlier request.
The ministry sought the collaboration of related agencies, including the directorate, investor, people’s committees of Hải Phòng City and Hải Dương Province as well as banks granting loans to reduce fee, ensure safety and prevent congestion at the toll booth.
Besides the mentioned vehicles, the fee will be cut to half for cars having 12-30 seats and trucks weighing two to four tonnes travelling within 5km around the toll booth, including the communes of Quang Trung, Quốc Tuấn (An Lão District), Đại Thắng, Tiên Cường, Tự Cường, Tiên Tiến, Quyết Tiến, Khởi Nghĩa (Tiên Lãng District), Giang Biên and Dũng Tiến (Vĩnh Bảo District).
Tiên Cựu BOT toll booth is part of the project of reinforcing and upgrading a part of National Highway No.10 connecting Quán Toan bridge to Nghìn bridge in Hải Phòng city under the form of BOT.
According to MoT, there are 88 BOT toll booths in Việt Nam. Among them, 74 are managed by the ministry, while 14 are controlled by provincial People’s Committees.
Nghệ An police seize over 600kg of firecrackers
Đoàn Văn Tý, Nguyễn Trường Khánh and the seized firecrackers at Nghi Lộc Police Station.
Police in central Nghệ An province seized 600kg of illegal firecrackers in Nghi Xuân Commune, Nghi Lộc District.
Following a tip-off, the provincial traffic police on Sunday stopped a suspicious truck passing through the commune. Upon inspection, police found firecrackers hidden under boxes of fruits.
The 26-year-old truck driver, Đoàn Văn Tý, was a resident of Hướng Hóa District in the central province of Quảng Trị. He said he was hired by Nguyễn Trường Khánh, who owned the firecrackers, to transport them from Quảng Trị to Nghệ An for VNĐ8 million (US$350).
Khánh was later arrested in Nghệ An Province’s Cửa Lò Township.
The police are further investigating the case.
The production, trade and use of firecrackers were banned in Việt Nam in 1994 for safety reasons. However, violations have become more rampants in recent years.
Kien Giang households escape poverty by harvesting forest products
Many poor households that were given cajeput forests to protect and harvest as part of a local programme in Kiên Giang Province have escaped poverty.
Many households in Forest Unit Area No 34 in Kiên Giang Province’s An Minh District have higher incomes now because of the rising prices of cajeput trees they are tasked to protect by local authorities.
Located in Cán Giáo Hamlet in An Minh District’s Đông Hưng B Commune, the Forest Unit Area No 34 has more than 1,290ha of cajeput forests which have been allocated to poor households to protect since 2009.
Võ Văn Thạch, one of the first farmers given a forested area, said that, besides money from selling cajeput trees, his family now earns an average additional income of VNĐ60 million (US$2,600) a year from selling honey, fish and vegetables.
Households who protect forests are allowed to harvest 10 per cent of allocated forests a year and have to replant new forests in the harvested area, he said.
When forest-allocated households moved in the area, they were all poor and lived in temporarily thatch-roofed houses, he said.
The area did not have electricity or roads at the time, and there were plenty of mosquitoes.
The low prices of cajeput yielded little income, but the price has increased significantly since 2016.
The price is now VNĐ15-20 million ($660 -880) per 1,000sq.m compared to VNĐ3 million per 1,000sq.m in 2009. Traders come directly to forests to buy the trees.
After harvest, more households are planting new cajeput forests.
No fires have broken out as farmers were also asked to ensure protection for the area from fire.
Besides planting forests, the households breed fish, plant vegetables and lure bees to build hives in their forests to collect honey.
With the income, many household have built houses and bought enough house facilities for their daily lives in recent years.
Trần Phi Hải, deputy director of the Forest Protection Board of An Biên and An Minh districts, said under the policy of the provincial People’s Committee on allocating cajeput forests for poor households to protect, 142 poor households who lived near the Forest Unit Area No 34 and did not have farmland for production were allocated forests for protection in 2009.
Each household was allocated an average of 5ha and allowed to harvest 10 per cent of allocated cajeput forests a year, he said.
The allocated forests were 10 years old at that time.
Quách Thị Diệp, one of the forest-allocated households, said previously she was very poor and had to work as a daily hired labourer or a peddler to earn a living.
Thanks to the policy, she now has a stable life, and has built a new house in the area.
Similarly, Tôn Văn Rỏi, one of the households in the programme, now has a house and stable income.
Besides harvesting cajeput forests and replanting new forests every year according to regulations, Rỏi breeds fish, plants vegetables and collects honey to improve income, he said.
He also works an additional job as a cajeput trader to earn more income.
Since 2017, the Forest Unit Area No 34 has had access to the national power grid.
Nguyễn Thành Công, a secretary for Cán Giáo Hamlet, said the lives of the households in Forest Unit Area No 34 had improved significantly.
Only 60 households in the area are still considered poor, he said.
Ministry responds to World No Tobacco Day
The Ministry of Health has called on the public to support World No Tobacco Day.
The Ministry of Health hosts the meeting on May 27 in Danang City to celebrate World No Tobacco Day on May 31 and the National No Tobacco Week from May 25 to 31.
Nguyen Viet Tien, Deputy Minister of Health and Head of the Fund for Tobacco Harm Prevention and Control hosted the meeting on May 27 in Danang City to celebrate World No Tobacco Day on May 31 and the National No Tobacco Week from May 25 to 31.
Seven million people died of tobacco-related illnesses in the world in 2016 according to the World Health Organisation. In Vietnam, 40,000 people died of tobacco-related illnesses each year. This year, World No Tobacco Day will focus on tobacco and heart disease. Tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure contribute to 30% of all heart disease deaths and 20% of deaths from strokes.
According to Tien, tobacco causes severe harm to health as well as the economy. Vietnamese spend approximately VND31trn (USD1.24m) on tobacco and VND24trn go into treatments for just five out of 25 tobacco-related illnesses every year.
"We call on everyone, especially young people, to not abuse tobacco. Cigarette addicts should quit for yourself and the people around you. I hope the Tobacco Harm Prevention Law will be followed. Leaders at state agencies and private firms should be the models for other people," he said.
Kidong Park, the World Health Organisation Representative in Vietnam, said that the tax on tobacco products in Vietnam is quite low compared to other countries, about 35% of retail price while the world average rate is 58% and much lower than the WHO's suggested 75%. Vietnam is among world's top 15 countries with the lowest tobacco prices with a pack of cigarette is sold at the prices of VND6,000 (24 US cents) to VND20,000.
Park suggested raising the tax on tobacco by at least VND2,000 to VND5,000 per pack of cigarettes to curb buying.
Over 1,000 students in Danang participated in a group dance after the meeting near Trung Vuong Theatre and marched through many streets to raise public awareness about the problem.
Da Nang exhibition showcases disabled kids’ paintings
A painting displayed at the exhibition (Source: https://danangfantasticity.com)
Artworks created by children with disabilities, orphans and those with difficult circumstances in the central city of Da Nang are on display at an exhibition that opened in the locality on May 28.
The event is organised by the Da Nang Fine Arts Museum and the municipal centre for sponsoring disabled and orphan children and the centre for providing social services.
As many 80 paintings showcased at the event reflect their love for the country, family and peace, and their aspiration for integrating into the community and having a better life.
Nguyen Thi Trinh, Vice Director of the museum, said the exhibition aims to discover and develop the art talents among orphans and the disabled, thus helping them overcome difficulties.
It also offers a chance for local children to increase exchanges and promote their creativeness, she added.
The event will last until June 20.
Thua Thien-Hue receives donation to develop traditional craft products
A man carves a bronze product at the bronze casting village in Phuong Duc ward of Hue city
Thua Thien-Hue has received 25,000 EUR (29,000 USD) from a UK national who donated the money to help the central province develop traditional craft products.
Hoang Ngoc Khanh, Chief of the Office of the provincial People’s Committee, said on May 28 that the administration handed over the money, donated by a woman named Victoria Elizabeth Ho, to the Hue Centre for Cultural Preservation and Economic Development to fund marketing activities, development of traditional products, and exhibition of products of local craft villages.
From now to 2020, Thua Thien-Hue plans to spend 144.3 billion VND (6.3 million USD) on supporting craft villages’ development, promoting the training and maintenance of traditional crafts, and expanding the market for products of craft villages and rural industries.
In the short term, it will promote eight crafts and craft villages in association with tourism to enhance traditional craft production and create more tourism services, thus providing jobs for more rural residents.
The craft villages that the province prioritises in the time ahead include Hue bronze casting village (in Phuong Duc and Thuy Xuan wards, Hue city), Phuoc Tich pottery making village and My Xuyen wood carving village (in Phong Hoa commune, Phong Dien district), Sinh folk painting village and Thanh Tien paper flower village (Phu Mau commune, Phu Vang district), Thuy Thanh conical hat village (Thuy Thanh commune, Huong Thuy township), My Lam conical hat village (Phu My commune, Phu Vang district), Zeng weaving village (A Roang and A Dot communes of A Luoi town, A Luoi district), and Bao La bamboo weaving village (Quang Phu and Quang Loi communes, Quang Dien district).
Thua Thien-Hue has issued a development plan for local traditional crafts and craft villages until 2025. This plan aims to help accelerate the industrialisation and modernisation of rural areas while creating jobs and raising income for rural residents.
Accordingly, the province will step up craft villages’ application of science-technology in production activities to improve the design, productivity, quality and competitiveness of traditional craft products. It will also develop the crafts that generate high economic benefits and combine craft village preservation with tourism development.
Fire destroys squid fishing vessel in Quang Nam
A squid fishing vessel suddenly caught fire at 6:30 am on May 27 while docked at Ky Ha port in Tam Quang commune of Nui Thanh district in the central province of Quang Nam as it refueled and stocked supplies for offshore-fishing.
The fire was sparked in a hold of the squid fishing vessel, and spread rapidly with thick columns of black smoke. The boat was engulfed in flames within 30 minutes. The vessel’s owner, crewmen, and local residents failed to extinguish the fire.
Fire engines and hundreds of fire fighters were mobilized to tackle the blaze, which took more than an hour to be brought under control.
The huge fire destroyed property on the vessel worth more than VND10 billion. Nguyen Van Thinh, vice chairman of Nui Thanh district’s People’s Committee said the preliminary cause of the fire is a short circuit in the hold of the fishing vessel.
Summer Youth Volunteer Campaign held in 93 poor districts
The Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union Central Committee has announced the Summer Youth Volunteer Campaign 2018, which will feature a wide range of activities.
Under the campaign, a “Tiep Suc Mua Thi” (Assistance during Exam Season) programme will be organised from June 3- August 3 for students, youth, pupils, educationists, and young teachers.
The campaign will take place across 93 poor districts and in those that have escaped poverty, youth islands, especially disadvantaged communes, areas affected by pollution in 28 coastal provinces and cities, border communes, and communes which have targeted recognition as new rural areas in 2018.
The movement aims to repair 1,000km and build 120km of new rural roads, develop 100 new “bright–green - clean –safe” routes, clean up at least one polluted area every week, and provide startup training courses for 100,000 youths and students.
Vietnam fines cruise ship for service scam reported by Australian tourist
Owner of a cruise ship in northern Vietnam has been fined VND15 million (US$660) following complaints from an Australian tourist of "horrific" experience during a tour on the famous Ha Long Bay.
Tourism officials in Hai Phong said on May 25 that they have fined the tour operator after confirming that the tourist's report was "valid."
Lynne Ryan, who was among a group of six Australian tourists visiting Vietnam early this month, came back with disappointment. "Horror trip, Ha Long Bay," she wrote in a Facebook post which drew the attention from many news outlets who published the story last week.
Ryan said her group booked a cruise tour on Ha Long Bay in Quang Ninh Province, which neighbors Hai Phong, with a travel company in Hanoi. She said she had been shown a glossy brochure with beautiful pictures of a boat and its services, but they were not what she and her friends actually received.
They had a "junk boat," she said, listing a rat house under the sink in the bathroom, a rat coming through a window, and rat droppings in the room. One of their rooms had the toilet, door and air-con all broken down.
"Sun decks on the top of boat had wood borers and were falling to pieces," she said, as cited by News.
Her group described their Ha Long Bay tour as a "nightmare" trip.
Hai Phong authorities said the ship providing the tour was registered in the city and has operated in Ha Long Bay without permission. They confirmed that the ship has been downgraded with poor hygiene in the kitchen and rooms for passengers.
The ship was suspended earlier this week and Hai Phong authorities have also ordered the operator to apologize and compensate the tourists.
Ha Long in Quang Ninh Province is one of Vietnam's biggest tourism magnets. The bay has been hailed by the U.S. travel guide site Smarter Travel as one of the best ecological spots in the world, while Business Insider said that an overnight Ha Long cruise trip is a “must-try” travel experience in Asia. The bay welcomed more than 28,000 foreigners during the first four months this year, according to Quang Ninh's tourism department.
Australia is one of the biggest source of foreign tourists to Vietnam. The country received nearly 147,600 Australian visitors in the first four months this year, up 13% from a year ago.
Vietnam’s internet to crawl as repair work starts on infamous cable
Internet connections in Vietnam are expected to run at snail’s pace in the coming week as a major undersea cable will go under repair.
A local internet service provider said the Asia America Gateway (AAG) is being fixed and work will reach the part connected to Vietnam' southern beach town Vung Tau on May 27. It is scheduled to finish on June 5.
The incident would affect all service providers in Vietnam, meaning that internet users will have to face the sluggish speed on international websites.
Several internet service providers are ready to reroute and transfer signals to other cables to minimize the impacts on users.
This is the second time the AAG encountered a technical problem this year, following a reset last January, and at least five similar incidents in 2017.
Connected in November 2009, the US$560-million AAG handles more than 60% of the country’s international internet traffic. The system runs more than 20,000 kilometers (12,420 miles), connecting Southeast Asia and the US, passing through Brunei, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Vietnam currently has six submarine cable systems, as well as a 120 gigabit channel that runs overland through China. With a download speed of 5.46 megabytes per second, Vietnam's internet speed was ranked 74th out of 189 countries and territories in a global survey of broadband speeds compiled by Cable.co.uk, a UK broadband, TV, phone and mobile provider, last August.
Vietnam's average broadband speed was 10 times lower than its Southeast Asian neighbor Singapore, according to the survey. However, the country still managed to trump six other countries in the region.
More than 50 million people in Vietnam, or more than half of the country’s population, are online.
Russian man detained for trying to hack ATM in Vietnam
Police in the central resort town Nha Trang in Khanh Hoa Province have detained a Russian man for trying to break into an ATM in the town's backpacker area.
Leksii Vackvasaki, 35, was allegedly trying to pry open the control panel of an ATM on Nguyen Thien Thuat Street on May 24 when a local discovered his act and reported it to the police.
Police said the man was carrying screwdrivers, a roll of black electrical tape and devices to access and read card information. Vackvasaki claimed he used the tape to block the ATM's security camera and was trying to steal card information of the ATM's previous users, according to Tuoi Tre newspaper.
Police are still investigating the case, and would propose charges of "deliberate destruction of property" and "theft" against the foreigner.
Despite calls from IT experts to raise security around payment systems, ATM networks in Vietnam remain a usual theft target. In March, police in Da Nang arrested two Chinese nationals who were attempting to install devices at local ATMs to steal users' card information. Another gang including members from Malaysia, Singapore, the US and Vietnam were arrested by police in the southern city of Can Tho the same month for similar crimes. Last December, a court in Ho Chi Minh City sentenced a Peruvian man to 18 years in prison as investigation found his gang had cracked open many ATMs across the country in 2014 and 2015 and stolen a total of VND6 billion (US$264,000).
Nearly 500 youth join “Blue Vietnamese Sea” campaign in Da Nang
“Blue Vietnamese Sea”, a marine environment protection campaign, was launched at an event at Thanh Khe beach in central Da Nang City on May 26.
The campaign is jointly organized by the Secretariat of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union (HCYU) Central Committee, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Hanoi Beer Alcohol and Beverage Joint Stock Corporation. It is taking place from May 18 to 26 in Da Nang city and the provinces of Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Quang Binh, and Quang Tri.
The campaign aims to call on youth, organisations, and individuals to work together in cleaning up the sea for a future without rubbish filled oceans, and raising public awareness of the importance of protecting the marine environment. It contributes to promoting youth solidarity and enthusiasm in implementing the Party and State’s policies for building new-style rural areas and civilized urban areas.
At the launch ceremony, Nguyen Manh Dung, Deputy Secretary of the HCYU Committee of Da Nang, said the central city has 92km of coastline and many famous beaches. Recently, Da Nang was selected as having one of six most beautiful beaches on the planet by the US magazine Forbes.
In recent years, the Da Nang HCYU has organized many weekly and monthly campaigns to clean up the sea in response to the “Make the world cleaner” campaign. It will continue to intensify its efforts to spread information about environmental protection and hold activities to clean up the sea and collect waste to make Da Nang beaches cleaner and more attractive, said Mr Dung.
On the occasion, the municipal HCYU presented a youth project to Thanh Khe district’s HCYU.
Two Lao drug traffickers captured in Dien Bien
Border guards in the northern province of Dien Bien have arrested two Lao nationals who were in the process of smuggling around 3kg of heroin.
The two men who were apprehended on May 25 and have been named as Po Lia, 25, and Sa Tu, 23, both residing in Muang May district, Phongsaly province, Laos.
Exhibits include 3kg of heroin, one mobile phone, and other evidence related to the case.
The two men initially confessed that they are drug users and had bought the heroin in their home village before transporting them to Vietnam where they intended to profit from the sale and distribution of the drugs.
The case is still under investigation.
HCM City introduces southern fruit at 40 high-end hotels
As many as 40 hotels of 4-and 5-star standards in Ho Chi Minh City will offer guests fresh southern fruits and welcome drinks made from these fruits from June 1 to 17.
Huynh Khanh Thuy Nguyen, deputy director of the HCMC Center of Agricultural Consultancy and Support, talks about the Safe and Delicious Fruit contest, an event of the Southern Fruit Festival
In addition, in the first week of June, many supermarkets in the city will introduce to customers Vietnamese fruit at separate corners. They will also show buyers how to distinguish between safe and unsafe fruit, and offer discounts for Vietnamese fruit.
These are activities to promote southern fruit as part of the Southern Fruit Festival scheduled for June 1 to 17 at Suoi Tien Theme Park in Ho Chi Minh City's District 9.
Nguyen Thi Anh Hoa, deputy director of the HCM City Department of Tourism, said the organizers will cooperate with tour operators to lure more tourists to the festival by offering 50% discount on entrance tickets for groups of tourists.
“We expect there will be 1.6 million tourists coming to Suoi Tien Theme Park during the festival this year, up 50% year-on-year,” she said.
According to Suoi Tien Cultural Tourism JSC, the festival will feature many activities like “Safe and Delicious Southern Fruit” contest with about 500 participants, giant fruit parade, farm tools showcase, fruit art and fruit fair.
The company buys fruit from quality farms to provide guests with safe and high-quality products.
During the summer, visitors to the park will be able to buy a variety of Southern fruit at prices 20-30% lower than the average prices on the market.
The festival is jointly organized by the HCMC Departments of Tourism and Trade-Industry, and Suoi Tien Cultural Tourism JSC. On International Children’s Day (June 1), children will enjoy free admission.
Da Nang welcomes more than 3.2 million visitors in 5 months
Central Da Nang City received more than 3.2 million visitors, including around 1.3 million foreigners and over 1.8 million domestic tourists, during the first five months of 2018, a year-on-year rise of 30.4%.
The total income from tourism revenue is estimated at more than VND11.1 trillion, up 53.6% against the same period of last year.
The municipal Department of Tourism has implemented procedures to build a headquarters of tourism promotion centre and continues to finalize the plan for a city-wide tourism accommodation database by 2025 with a vision to 2030.
In addition, it submitted a tourism development plan to the People’s Committee and directly carried out many activities to support visitors to the city, such as introducing chatbot applications and publishing images and information about Da Nang through different channels.
More than 35,000 visitors have been supported with tourism information, over 60% of whom sought out information on Da Nang during the first five months of this year.
Da Nang is expected to lure around 7.4 million visitors this year.
Lord Buddha’s 2,562nd birthday celebrated in HCM City
A musical performance at the event
The Ho Chi Minh City Buddhist Sangha held a music gala named “Lua thieng bat diet” (Eternal sacred fire) on May 27 as part of the activities to celebrate Lord Buddha’s 2,562nd birthday.
More than 20 art performances at the programme extolled Lord Buddha, the Most Venerable Thich Quang Duc who immolated himself to oppose against Buddhist suppression 55 years ago, as well as praise patriotism.
The event drew the participation of monks, nuns, Buddhist followers and local people from all walks of life.
A Buddhist cultural week is underway in Ho Chi Minh City from May 22-29 with a wide range of activities, including Buddha bathing ceremonies, presenting 1,000 gifts to disadvantaged households in District 10, and incense offering at the monument dedicated to Most Venerable Thich Quang Duc.
An exhibition on life and religious career of the Most Venerable Thich Quang Duc is part of the activities as well.
Works on Buddhist culture and art are also on display on the occasion.
Hưng wins women’s blitz category in chess open
Nguyễn Thị Mai Hưng. — Photo zing.vn
Nguyễn Thị Mai Hưng won the title in the women’s blitz category at the Đào Thiên Hải Open Chess Tournament, which concluded in HCM City on May 27.
Grand Master Hưng, 24, had also won the national women’s chess titles in 2011 and 2013.
Meanwhile, Nguyễn Ngọc Thùy Trang won the title in the women’s rapid division.
On the men’s side, FIDE (World Chess Federation) Master Đặng Hoàng Sơn won in the blitz division, while Mai Lê Nguyên Khôi triumphed in the rapid event.
The fourth chess tournament attracted hundreds of chess players from HCM City and neighbouring provinces.
The event aimed to seek young talents to compete in the upcoming Southeast Asia Junior Chess Tournament in the Philippines.
Rescuers recall 50 hours of retrieving body of dead VN trekker from deep forest
A rescue team worked hard for more than two days to bring home the body of a backpacker who was found dead after getting lost while trekking through a forest path in southern Vietnam over a week ago.
T.A.K. went missing on May 11 while trekking in a group on the 60-kilometer Ta Nang-Phan Dung trail, which runs from Lam Dong Province in Vietnam’s Central Highlands to the south-central province of Binh Thuan.
The forest covering the trail is famous for its scenic beauty but poses potential danger to first-time explorers, as it has a number of waterfalls and fast-flowing streams.
Over 100 people had joined in the efforts to search for the missing 24-year-old trekker, before he was finally found dead and trapped at the bottom of the Lao Phao waterfall in the jungle on May 20.
It was not until May 23 that the rescuers managed to transport the body to the end of the Ta Nang-Phan Dung trail in Binh Thuan, after a strenuous bid that lasted about 50 hours.
The victim’s mother was there to receive her son's corpse and took him to Ho Chi Minh City.
K.’s body had lain at the waterfall for more than ten days as attempts to retrieve it met with hindrances of accessibility to the forest.
A group of volunteers knowing the trail well and mastering rescue skills was formed for the purpose, including Nguyen Quoc Huy and Tran Ly Tuong, who felt sorry for the plight of the victim.
Now that the search and rescue efforts ended, the group recalled the tough task and explained why it took them more than two days to be able to retrieve the body.
On the first day after knowing of the location of the deceased trekker, the group set off in the early morning in Da Lat, the capital of Lam Dong, walked along devious paths in the jungle for nearly five hours before reaching the three-story waterfall, where K. was lying, according to Huy.
“This is a completely deserted place that even no natives have ever got to,” Huy said.
All members had to wear face masks and put on medicated oil to protect themselves from the assault of the odor emanating from the badly decomposing body, which they were unable to stand near for 30 seconds with a bare nose.
Tuong said they anchored ropes at several points up the waterfall cliff, which he estimated to be 90 meters high, and manually pulled the body to the top gradually.
The body was left at one-third of the height of the waterfall from the bottom when night fell and the volunteers became exhausted.
They stayed awake through the night, shivering in icy cold winds in the jungle.
“We initially thought the job would be done within a day, so we didn’t bring much food,” he admitted.
“But it turned out to be too difficult and lasted longer than expected.
“At the end of the day, our stomach was rumbling ravenously.”
Huy added that the rescuers were worried they had to start afresh if there was a problem with the anchors and ropes.
“We were all nervous and just wanted the morning to come quickly,” he said.
The volunteers resumed at dawn and continued hard into the late afternoon, when they again felt worn out as a result of moving the rope system and pulling the body to the top.
The body was then carried on a motorbike down a one-meter-wide slope which they said can only be maneuvered by the most skillful riders.
Huy recalled that surrounding the vehicle was four subgroups; one cleared the path at its front, two kept the motorbike in balance and the other held the body in place at the rear.
“We inched down along the way, hands all numb,” he continued.
They reached the end of the Ta Nang-Phan Dung trail fatigued at 10:00 pm on May 25, around 50 hours since the strenuous effort was initiated.
The victim’s mother collapsed at the sight of her son’s body, and the volunteers were moved to tears at the moment.
“The mother had wept copiously for over ten days. Her voice was choked while she was saying the child’s name,” Tuong said.