Bodies of 13 rescue team members retrieved from landslide rubble

By Staff reporters   October 15, 2020 | 04:14 pm GMT+7
Bodies of 13 rescue team members retrieved from landslide rubble
An ambulance carrying bodies recovered from a landslide site in Thua Thien-Hue Province is on its way to a military hospital, October 15, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Vo Thanh.

The bodies of all 13 members of a rescue team buried by a landslide in Thua Thien Hue Province’s Phong Dien District have been retrieved, 11 of them military officers.

The bodies were found between 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Thursday at ranger station 67 in Phong Xuan Commune.

One of the victims is Major General Nguyen Van Man, deputy commander of the 4th Military Region of Vietnam People's Army that oversees the north-central region. Among 10 other military officers, one was deputy head of the aid and rescue department at the Ministry of National Defense, six worked in logistics, combat, technology and information units of the 4th Military Region, and three were officers of Thua Thien Hue military command.

Two other victims are chairman of Phong Dien District and head of information and propaganda of the province's news portal.

The 13 declared missing since midnight Tuesday were part of a 21-member rescue team that had set out to verify reports of workers buried by another landslide on a construction site near the Rao Trang 3 hydropower plant located deep in the jungle, more than 10 kilometers away from ranger station 67.

At around midnight Monday, a collapsing hill had buried the plant's operation center inside which several employees were sleeping. Heavy rains and flooding have hampered rescue teams in accessing the site. Of the 17 workers reported buried, one was found dead on Wednesday. The other 16 are still listed as missing.

Since last week, Thua Thien-Hue and other parts of the central region have been drenched by torrential rains, triggering floods and landslides.

An ambulance carries bodies recovered from a landslide site in Thua Thien-Hue Province, October 15, 2020. Video by Hoang Tao.

On Monday, the provincial Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention, Control and Rescue received a phone call about the landslide near the Rao Trang 3 hydropower plant. The informant had climbed a mountain to make the call. The phone number was reported out of service later.

The same night, a 21 member-rescue team had been dispatched to the scene to verify the incident. They stopped at the ranger station 67 to rest for the night. A rocky landslide hit the station’s rooms at midnight. Only eight members of the team managed to escape.

Rescue forces have stepped up efforts to look for the missing victims as heavy rains are forecast to hit Thua Thien-Hue Province Thursday night.

 
 
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