Man following in Buddhist ascetic's path collapses, dies of alleged heatstroke

By Vo Thanh, Dac Thanh   May 31, 2024 | 11:30 pm PT
Man following in Buddhist ascetic's path collapses, dies of alleged heatstroke
A group of people follow Thich Minh Tue during his pilgrimage in central Vietnam, May 2024. Photo by Minh Quan
A 47-year-old man who was retracing a pilgrimage done by ascetic practitioner Thich Minh Tue has died of cardiac arrest allegedly induced by strong heat.

While following Thich Minh Tue’s walk in Ai Tu Town of Trieu Phong District in Quang Tri Province in central Vietnam on Thursday noon, Son collapsed and was rushed to Trieu Phong District General Hospital in a cyanotic state.

He was then transferred to Quang Tri General Hospital and subsequently to Hue City Central Hospital of Hue City that borders Quang Tri in a deep coma caused by heatstroke.

Doctors in Hue attempted to resuscitate him upon arrival, but Son had already passed away due to prior cardiac arrest, they said.

"No family members have yet come to claim Son's body. Police of Quang Tri are still investigating the incident," said Nguyen Thanh Xuan, Deputy Director of Hue Central Hospital, said Friday.

On Thursday, a group of about 30 people followed Thich Minh Tue as he passed through Quang Tri on his own journey from north to south.

At the time Son collapsed, the weather in Quang Tri was extremely hot, with temperatures reaching 36 degrees Celsius, and the group was walking on the asphalt road, without wearing anything to cover their heads.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, in the most severe cases, heatstroke can lead to ventricular tachyarrhythmias and cardiac arrest.

Vice Chairman of the Quang Nam Province, which borders Thua Thien - Hue, has requested that authorities proactively ensure security and order when Thich Minh Tue passes through the area, which is expected in early June.

The provincial police are responsible for preventing large gatherings that may obstruct traffic and complicate security and order.

Thich Minh Tue, 43, has never identified himself as a monk and never called for any followers.

He simply follows the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni, practicing the ascetic path: wearing patched clothes, begging for food, eating one meal a day, not accepting monetary offerings, rejecting all conveniences...

In recent years, he has walked bare feet across the country several times to practice the ascetic path.

He was born Le Anh Tu in the central Ha Tinh Province before his family moved to Central Highlands' Gia Lai Province.

He was formerly a monk at a pagoda, where he took the Buddhist name Thich Minh Tue.

"'Minh' means bright, while 'Tue' means intelligence. The whole name means 'the shone way'," he told VnExpress last month, adding that when he left the pagoda, he kept his Buddhist name.

He said he is neither a Buddhist monk nor affiliated with any pagoda or institution under the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha.

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