Vietnamese police urge helicopter rescue service after deadly highway pile-up in Hanoi

By Hoang Thuy   April 2, 2018 | 04:16 pm GMT+7
Vietnamese police urge helicopter rescue service after deadly highway pile-up in Hanoi
Vehicles travel on Phap Van-Cau Gie Highway in Hanoi which saw a serious tailback following multiple crashes on March 18, 2018. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy
Ambulance cars and fire trucks in major cities are often caught in traffic.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security has called for helicopters to be deployed during rescue operations on the country's highways, after multiple crashes caused serious congestion on a Hanoi expressway last month.

Multiple crashes that killed three people and caused an eight-hour tailback on the Phap Van-Cau Gie Expressway in Hanoi should be a wake-up call to push for better rescue service, officials said at a meeting on Friday.

Police would be caught in serious "extreme" difficulties in such situation, said Major General Nguyen Ngoc Tuan, deputy chief of the traffic police division.

Traffic on the Hanoi expressway was frozen over 30 kilometers from the afternoon until midnight on March 18, trapping many travelers including children and patients on their way to hospital.

“There were a three-month-old baby and a person in need of respiration support," he said.

Hanoi had to send police cars to escort them out of the ensuing chaos.

Tuan proposed more police and medical centers along highways, separate lanes for different vehicles and speed limit markers.

Media reports of the March 18 tragedy said at least five passengers and five firefighters were also injured in the crashes, which occurred as people were making their way back to the city after the weekend.

The incident brought back discussions from several years ago about how Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, the country's largest metropoles, should adopt helicopter rescue to cope with its heavy traffic in emergent cases.

Hanoi is home to more than 7.6 million people and the southern city around 13 million. Both cities are packed with millions of motorbikes and cars and do not have much space for ambulances or fire trucks.

Ho Chi Minh City revealed plans to buy helicopters for rescue first in 2013 and Vietnamese police also agreed in late 2015 that the two cities should be equipped with such services. But no actual transactions have ever been reported.

Road crashes are a main cause of deaths in Vietnam, killing an average of one person every hour last year, according to official figures. Deadly fire incidents were also reported often.

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