|The scene of an accident where a tree fell and killed a student and injured others sitting under it at a school in HCM City. — VNA/VNS Photo Hồng Giang|
HCM CITY — The HCM City Central Steering Committee on Disaster Prevention and Control has ordered city districts to take timely measures to deal with risks of falling trees during the rainy season, following the death of a student who was hit by an uprooted tree on Tuesday at a secondary school.
Residents have become increasingly concerned about the number of trees that have fallen during heavy downpours. The rainy season in the southern region lasts between May and November.
According to the Southern Hydro-Meteorological Station, HCM City rainfall was about 40mm on average for the past 10 days, with the southern section of the city having the highest rainfall, about 50-60 mm.
Heavy rains usually carry strong squalls, increasing the risk of knocking down trees and injuring people.
In addition, construction of concrete pavements and sewage systems and burying of underground power cables have undermined trees' photosynthesis and water absorption, weakening plant vitality, according to the station.
Rapid urban development, with houses suffocating the space and underground projects taking up soil and water, has also affected the trees.
Lê Công Phương, director of the HCM City Green Tree and Park Company, said that nearly 100,000 trees of all kinds along streets, residential areas and parks are taken care of by the company.
To minimise damage caused by falling trees, the company's staff regularly check old trees that are at a risk of falling and cut down trees suffering from old age, disease, heart rot or tilting.
However, it can be difficult to accurately assess tree conditions because some trees that look normal might fall at any time, he said.
Phương said that private schools and companies should periodically check trees on their property. During rainy season, some trees will inevitably fall because of disease or because their roots are not deeply secured in the soil.
Improper care is another cause. Trees receive periodic care based merely on the number of yellow leaves or visible outward manifestation of plant diseases.
Phương said that residents should avoid standing under trees and travelling on roads during rainstorms, and seek safe shelter as soon as possible.
Phượng vĩ (flamboyant or royal poinciana) trees are commonly planted at schools but have weak roots. The trees need to be checked regularly and branches pruned before the rainy season so that heavy branches do not uproot the tree, according to Phương.
The Department of Transport said it would increase the number of inspections and review of trees that could fall.
The three main types of trees planted on city streets include phượng vĩ (flamboyant or royal poinciana), xà cừ (African mahogany) and me tây (Albizia saman), according to the Green Tree and Park Company.
These kinds of trees can be easily uprooted during heavy rains.
A student died at Bạch Đằng Secondary School in District 3 and 17 others were injured after a tree fell on them Tuesday morning. The 24-year-old 10-metre flamboyant tree on the school grounds toppled and fell on the group of 18 students sitting under it.
There are more than 122,650 trees lining the city’s streets, including more than 6,000 trees between 15 and 20 years old that are vulnerable to heavy rain and strong winds. — VNS