Viet Nam News
KHÁNH HÒA — Stories are coming in of unsung local heroes in the coastal Khánh Hòa Province who braved the wrath of Typhoon Damrey last Saturday to take their boats out sea to rescue scores of victims.
After hearing about some men from floating aquaculture farms being marooned off Vạn Giã fishing village, Hồ Thanh Phi, 40, of Vạn Ninh District, took his motorboat out on Saturday night to look for them.
He coaxed friends and relatives to take other motorboats owned by his family and look for the unfortunate people marooned at sea.
Scouring the area until after 10pm, they managed to rescue and bring to shore nearly 150 people who had been working on floats with fish and shrimp cages.
They were drifting at sea or had managed to reach the islands of Hòn Gà, Hòn Nung and Bãi Gạo, which are four nautical miles from the mainland, after their floats were destroyed by the storm.
Nguyễn Bá Luân, 29, director of Sơn Nam Tourism Joint Stock Company, also braved the storm to go out to sea in his company’s boats with seven colleagues to save more than 200 marooned men from aquaculture farms, Sài Gòn Giải Phóng (Liberated Sài Gòn) newspaper reported.
They divided themselves into three groups and went in different directions off Vạn Ninh District.
After struggling with fierce waves for more than one hour they found eight men clinging to a plastic barrel to survive.
PM Phúc praises Luân’s bravery acts
HÀ NỘI — Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has praised the heroism of Nguyễn Bá Luân, who saved hundreds of fishermen stranded at sea during typhoon Damrey.
In a letter written to Luân, a tourism worker, yesterday, the PM said that he was moved to learn that Luân and some of his colleagues, despite the danger, bravely took his boat out to sea to save the citizens.
“On behalf of the Government, I sincerely applaud and highly appreciate the heroic, responsible and humane spirit of Nguyễn Bá Luân and his colleagues,” Phúc wrote.
Phúc also called on everyone to keep supporting citizens affected by the storm and the floods in recent days. — VNS
The rescued men said more of their colleagues were stranded at sea, and Luân and his colleagues managed to find a dozen exhausted men from aquaculture floats clinging to a tree trunk in the pitch darkness near an island off Vạn Thạnh Commune.
Having saved nearly 20 men, Luân began to feel exhaustion set in, but he did not stop and continued to search for more victims.
His phone was constantly ringing with calls from desperate trapped farmers and their families – his company is well-known in the area since its vessels transport people between the mainland and a nearby island -- asking for help.
He and his colleagues ended up at sea for dozens of hours looking for victims.
At 5am some of Luân’s team had to be hospitalised for exhaustion, but the rest continued with their heroic efforts.
Hoàng Quốc Trường, one of the latter, said when they heard about the aquaculturists being trapped at sea, they did not worry about the risk to their own lives but were worried more about the victims.
They had to remind each other to be careful and make sure they survived because their own families were waiting for them, he said.
“If the stranded men were not saved in time, what would have happened to them if they had lost contact in the storm and heavy rain?” he told Sài Gòn Giải Phóng newspaper.
Nguyễn Thị Nhung, whose husband and his workers had been managing a floating fish farm at sea, had asked Luân to look for him.
Luân managed to rescue her husband, a grateful and relieved, Nhung said.
Võ Lục Phẩm, deputy chairman of the Vạn Ninh District People’s Committee, said local authorities had commended Luân.
Many of Luân’s brave colleagues had their houses damaged by Typhoon Damrey. Luân also had three motorboats damaged.
Phi and Luân were awarded the Bạn Đồng Hành Quanh Tôi (Fellow-passenger Around Me) Prize and VNĐ14 million (US$614). They donated a part of the money to storm victims.
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has written a note to Luân praising his and his colleagues’ bravery.
Lê Văn Quả, 35, of Bình Sơn District in Quảng Ngãi Province, which was also affected by the storm, rowed his boat to rescue 15 people from flooding. — VNS