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Soldiers missing amid attempt to rescue workers trapped by landslide

Update: October, 13/2020 - 17:51


Deputy Prime Minister Trịnh Đình Dũng (centre) came to Thừa Thiên-Huế to direct search and rescue efforts for 30 missing people in Rào Trăng No 3 hydropower plant incident on Tuesday afternoon. — VNA/VNS Photo 

HÀ NỘI — Authorities have lost contact with 13 members of a team of military officers and soldiers sent to rescue missing and stranded workers after a landslide hit a hydropower plant in central Việt Nam.

The team of more than 20 members set off for the under-construction Rào Trăng 3 Hydropower Plant in the central province of Thừa Thiên Huế on Monday night to rescue 17 workers trapped at the plant, but were unable to reach the plant due to the landslide and continuing extreme weather, so stopped for the night at Forest Ranger Station No 7.

Authorities lost contact with 13 members of the rescue team late on Monday night, while some members have returned safely to the rescue base.

In addition, 40 workers of Rào Trăng 3 Hydropower Plant, including three Indian experts, who managed to escape the landslide made it safely to Rào Trăng 4 Hydropower Plant, which is also under construction, and are isolated and only have enough food for one more day, according to provincial authorities.

Rescue efforts to reach these 40 workers are also underway, but the road from Rào Trăng 3 to Rào Trăng 4 is severely eroded and the only way to reach them is via the fast-flowing waterways.

Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc sent a message on Tuesday morning to order agencies to focus on rescuing the team and the workers.

The PM told the Minister of Defence Ngô Xuân Lịch, head of the National Committee for Search and Rescue Doãn Thái Đức, head of the Central Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control Trịnh Đình Dũng and head of the provincial People’s Committee Phan Ngọc Thọ to mobilise all necessary forces for rescue efforts.

He also ordered the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the provincial People’s Committee to re-check reservoirs of local hydropower plants and reservoirs for irrigation and take measures to ensure safety for local residents living near the areas.

In a related move, a team led by Deputy Prime Minister Trịnh Đình Dũng, head of the Central Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control, arrived in the province on Tuesday afternoon to direct agencies to fix the situation.

Dũng offered deepest sympathies to the families of those missing and asked to get access to the incident site by "all means and resources available."

At noon on Tuesday, officials of Military Zone 4 and vice-chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Nguyễn Thanh Binh directed local agencies to deploy plans to access the landslide scene at the hydropower plant, located in Phong Điền District.

The first plan is to follow provincial road No 71 with a military vehicle, carrying army engineer forces to open the way to the scene and have another team travel from Hương Điền Hydropower Plant using high-speed boats.

Another plan, which involves using military helicopters to survey the area and rescue the victims, was also considered.

Seven excavators, two bulldozers, three ambulances and hundreds of soldiers have been mobilised to participate in the rescue.

The local administration has proposed the Government and the National Committee for Search and Rescue dispatch a multi-purpose rescuing vehicle, a high-speed boat with a capacity of 4,500 CV, 10 generators with headlights, 30 rescue boats, 10 hydraulic breakers and 20 handsaws to serve rescue efforts.

Previously, at noon on Monday, local people informed the provincial Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention about the landslide at Rào Trăng 3 Hydropower Plant and asked for help.

Ongoing heavy rains and flooding have killed 20 people in central provinces, including Thừa Thiên Huế Province, in central provinces, as the country braces for the seventh typhoon to hit this year.— VNS

Soldiers make plans to access the landslide scene in Rào Trăng 3 Hydropower Plant, located in Phong Xuân Commune, Phong Điền District on Tuesday afternoon. —VNA/VNS Đỗ Trưởng


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