Worker found dead following hydropower plant landslide

By Staff reporters   October 14, 2020 | 12:30 am PT
Worker found dead following hydropower plant landslide
The body of a hydropower plant construction worker is carried out of the jungle in a hammock in Thua Thien-Hue Province, October 14, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Vo Thanh.
A construction worker has been found dead following a landslide near Rao Trang 3 hydropower plant in Thua Thien Hue Province in central Vietnam, with 29 others still missing.

The worker's body was found on Wednesday and has been moved out of the jungle, Phan Thien Dinh, the province's vice chairman said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 29 people, including 16 hydropower plant workers and 13 members of a rescue team remain missing, with three helicopters deployed to the scene and 650 soldiers dispatched to aid rescue efforts.

The workers were declared missing after a landslide hit their plant construction site, while the rescuers were hit by another landslide later while they were staying at ranger station 67, more than 10 km away and 14 km from main roads.

At 10 a.m., rescue teams were supplied with relief packages, before approaching the landslide site at the ranger station. However, recovery efforts were impeded by the huge amount of soil and rock.

A helicopter drops aids to a team coming to rescue landslide victims near a hydropower plant construction site in Thua Thien-Hue, October 14, 2020. Video by Ba Do.

Sniffer dogs have since been employed to boost rescue attempts.

Dozens of excavators and bulldozers have worked non-stop since Tuesday to clear the road. For now, the 20 km route from the main road to Rao Trang 3 include at least 10 areas hit by serious landslides, with four streams in full spate.

On Monday, the provincial Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention, Control and Rescue received a phone call stating a team of over 10 construction workers had been buried under a landslide at Rao Trang 3 hydropower plant, standing deep within the jungle, around 30 km (18.6 miles) from Phong Xuan Commune in Phong Dien District.

The informant had climbed a mountain to make the call. The phone number was reported out of service later.

The same night, 21 members of a rescue team had set out to verify the incident. However, 13 of them, including Nguyen Van Man, deputy commander of the 4th Military Region of Vietnam People's Army, were themselves buried by another landslide and have been declared missing.

When the landslide hit near the hydropower plant, around 40 other workers, including three Indians, had safely moved to nearby Rao Trang 4 power plant, also cut off from main roads by landslides and flooding. Of these, 19 have been found and moved out of the jungle by Wednesday afternoon.

A road leading to Rao Trang 3 hydropower plant in Phong Dien District, Thua Thien-Hue Province, October 13 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Vo Thanh.

A road leading to Rao Trang 3 hydropower plant in Phong Dien District, Thua Thien-Hue Province, October 13 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Vo Thanh.

Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung has arrived in Phong Dien District to oversee the search and rescue mission.

Phan Ngoc Tho, chairman of Thua Thien-Hue Province, said the central region could be battered by more heavy rains from October 16-17, hidering rescue efforts. "Task forces have to take advantage of the golden time to carry out the rescue mission and look for missing victims," he stressed.

Since last week, central Vietnam has been bombarded by rains, floods and landslides after a cold spell came in contact with tropical turbulence, which have killed at least 36 people, leaving 12 missing.

As of Wednesday, Thua Thien-Hue has reported seven deaths and thousands of homes submerged. Provincial authorities have asked for emergency supplies including food, medicine and rescue gear.

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