Mass drowning probe finds nine schoolboys were "trying to save each other"

By Xuan Ngoc, An Hong   April 20, 2016 | 02:22 pm GMT+7
Nine schoolboys who drowned in central Vietnam had been trying to help each other after they started experiencing difficulties, said local fire and rescue authorities yesterday after nearly a week of investigations.

The mass drowning occurred in the central province of Quang Ngai last Friday when a group of 11 teenagers, including nine boys and two girls, aged about 12 years old, went for a swim in the Tra Khuc River.

The victims, who were sixth-grade students from the same school, were all identified after dive teams spent several hours trying to recover their bodies. The bodies were found next to each other, entangled in grass on the riverbed.

The initial investigation showed that some of the victims must have accidentally jumped into a 2-meter sinkhole, so the rest then entered the water to save those struggling against the current.


A group of nine schoolboys, ranging between 11 to 13, drowned in a section of the Tra Khuc River in Quang Ngai Province while trying to rescue each other. Photo by X.N

“If they hadn’t jumped into the water from a height, the tragic incident wouldn’t have happened,” said a senior fire and rescue official in Quang Ngai.

The boys were earlier seen playing in shallow water but the river recently had a new drainage system installed, which means the water is up to two meters in parts, said local authorities.

The children were also said to have ignored warnings from a local woman who had seen them playing by the river.

Vietnamese schools don’t teach students how to swim due mainly to a lack of facilities. The government has tried and failed to introduce swimming classes in schools nationwide.

Drowning is one of the main causes of child deaths in Vietnam. According to a recent survey by the World Health Organisation, more than 11,000 children die by drowning each year in Vietnam. Statistics from the Health Ministry showed that around 3,300 children died from drowning last year.

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