Giant statue partially collapses in northern Vietnam, and officials blame 12-year-old kid

By Minh Nga   August 10, 2017 | 10:25 pm PT
But to many others, their excuse sounds about as shaky as the $616,000 stone monument itself.

A 12-year-old boy has been blamed for busting a chunk out of a giant 3 meter-high stone statue in Vietnam's northern province of Bac Kan, raising widespread eyebrows at his apparently superhuman strength.

Luong Van Tran and his friends were playing around the monument on Wednesday night when Tran decided to take a climb up the structure. Unfortunately for him, and the statue, the symbol of strength did not live up to what it stands for, and the young boy somehow managed to decapitate one of the figures as he was swinging from it.

The monument cost a massive VND14 billion ($616,000), and was erected in Bac Kan Square in 2015. The average annual income of the locals there was $1,280 last year, almost half of that of the country.

Local officials have said the boy, who was slightly injured, had caused the monument to collapse. So, you ask, how was a small boy capable of destroying it? 

“The adhesive that was used clearly could not stand up to the weather,” Pham Duy Hung, the provincial chairman, was quoted by VTC as saying on Thursday.


The broken monument in Bac Kan Town in the eponymous province. Photo by VTC

But for many people, this excuse sounds about as shaky as the statue.

Vi Kien Thanh, a senior official from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said if someone was able to break the monument just by climbing on it, then it's not a monument; it's a mannequin.

He added that the technique of using separate blocks to build a statue is common practice, so something had obviously gone wrong at the Bac Kan monument, Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper said in a Friday report.

A VnExpress reader named Tuan Phan wrote that Tran must have had supernatural powers to be able to break a stone monument, and added that Bac Kan officials should review the entire project.

Another reader named Hoa Long said authorities are trying to pass the buck to a kid to duck their responsibilities.

For years, monuments have been making headlines in Vietnam, but for all the wrong reasons. It's because of their unbelievably high costs and poor workmanship.

In 2015, the country finished work on the biggest monument in Southeast Asia. With investment of VND441 billion ($18.2 million), the monument was built to pay tribute to Vietnamese mothers who lost their children and grandchildren to the wars.

Many people called it a waste and said the money should go to the heroic mothers who are still alive, but the project went ahead anyway and was unveiled in the central province of Quang Nam after seven years of construction.

A few days after its inauguration, cracks started appearing.

2015 wasn't a good year for monuments in Vietnam. The top of a VND24 billion stucture also cracked and toppled in Quang Ninh Province, apparently due to heavy rain. Shortly afterwards, authorities discovered that its setting was not 100-percent concrete.

And it goes back further than that. In 2004, Vietnam’s biggest copper monument was finished in Dien Bien Phu Town in the northern mountainous province of Dien Bien at a cost of VND47 billion.

Not long after that, rust and cracks started appearing on the giant structure, pretty much at the same time the province discovered that 100 tons of copper had been gone missing from the project.

Dak Nong Province in the Central Highlands also halted work on a VND147-billion monument after an inspection in September last year revealed that a major part of the foundations had not been filled with concrete.

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