Three children fall off school van in southern Vietnam

By Phuoc Tuan    November 28, 2019 | 06:56 am PT
A house door latch used as backdoor lock caused three first-grade children to fall off a running school bus in Dong Nai Province Tuesday.

16 children were being taken from the Phan Boi Chau Primary School at around 10:30 a.m. to their homeroom teacher’s house, two kilometers away, for lunch and afternoon's extra classes. As the bus took a turn, the back door of the van burst open, and two boys and a girl were flung to the ground.

The driver stopped immediately as he heard the screams. Fortunately, no other moving vehicle was in the vicinity and the van was not travelling at a high speed. The three children escaped unhurt.

Three first-grade children fall off a running school bus in Dong Nai Province, November 26, 2019.

The Bien Hoa Municipal Police confiscated the bus for inspection in the afternoon and found that the lock to the back door was broken, and replaced temporarily with a common, cheap, door latch.

"When I suddenly heard loud screaming outside, I ran out of my house and saw three children rolling around on the road. The driver, after checking if they were hurt, led them inside the bus and drove away," said Lan, a local resident.

The bus owner, Tran Phuc Dinh, admitted his fault. "I must not have secured the lock of the back door carefully," he told VnExpress after working with the police.

Truong Thi Loan, the homeroom teacher who accompanied the students on the bus, claimed that the accident happened partly because the children were being mischievous in the back despite her reproaches.

Vu Thi Thanh Binh, principal of the Phan Boi Chau Primary School, said the students had played with the lock and caused the back door to open. 

A house door latch was fixed to the outside of the van’s rear door. Photo by VnExpress/Phuoc Tuan.

A house door latch was fixed to the outside of the van’s rear door. Photo by VnExpress/Phuoc Tuan.

"After the accident, the school has received no complaints from the students’ parents," she added.

Many parents in Dong Nai Province have reported that bus drivers usually remove the backrest of buses’ original seats and put plastic chairs to increase the number of children the bus can carry, which is a safety violation. Many school van or bus drivers have also been reported for rash driving, endangering both the children inside and other vehicles and people outside.

After the accident, Huynh Thi Le Giang, director of Dong Nai Department of Education and Training, ordered an inspection of all school-related vehicles in the province to ensure children’s safety.

Inside the school bus involved in Wednesday’s accident. Photo by VnExpress/Phuoc Tuan.

Inside the school bus involved in Tuesday’s accident. Photo by VnExpress/Phuoc Tuan.

In another tragic instance of unsafe school bus practices, a first-grade boy in Hanoi was found dead in August this year after being abandoned inside a school bus for nine hours. In September, a three-year-old boy in Bac Ninh Province in northern Vietnam luckily survived after being left inside the bus with a window open 10 cm wide for eight hours.

Both the bus driver and the bus monitor in Hanoi are currently facing the charge of involuntary manslaughter. Meanwhile, in Bac Ninh Province, the responsible kindergarten was suspended. Investigations are on in both cases.

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