Enemies in high places: Falling bricks, knives threaten lives in Vietnam

By Phan Duong, Minh Thuy   December 28, 2018 | 09:02 pm GMT+7
On Christmas Day, a 3-year-old boy was playing outside an apartment building in central Vietnam. Then he died.

A piece of mortar fell on him from above, killing him on the spot.

Authorities are investigating the death outside the Lotus House apartment complex in Vinh City and are yet to decide whether the mortar fell or was flung.

But the tragedy has focused attention on what residents and officials are calling "an epidemic" of flying objects from high-rise residential apartments in Vietnam.

Last August a paint bucket containing mortar fell from a 41-story apartment building in Hoang Mai District, Hanoi and crashed through the corrugated iron roof of a ground floor restaurant. Fortunately, no one was hit.

A year earlier in the same complex, a large stainless steel knife and a cutting board weighing nearly 5kg fell in the common yard of the condominium. They were found to belong to a household on the 11th floor.

Dirty diapers, brooms, cups, even cutlery fall out of apartments in Hanoi and HCMC.

Dirty diapers, brooms, cups and even cutlery frequently fall out of apartments in Vietnam. Photo acquired by VnExpress 

Last February, a resident had a near-death experience when two knives fell right in front of him at a condominium in Binh Thanh District, HCMC.

On various forums, people are saying that "flying objects" are one of the biggest safety threats in apartments.

They say soiled diapers and sanitary pads as well as deadly objects like glass bottles, iron bars, flower pots, bricks, mortar and knives are thrown out of higher floors by irresponsible residents with no civic sense.

Following the tragic death of the boy in Vinh City, one resident of an apartment building in Hanoi said: "Our apartment building has also experienced a lot of falling objects like bowls, mops, glass bottles, iron bars, all of which can be fatal, but luckily they have not hit any young kid like that unfortunate boy.

"I feel very insecure when walking around the building, so I curtail my walks. If the building puts up a roof [over the yard], you will see that after a year there will be many objects lying on it."

Worried residents say security cameras have to be installed to identify the littering culprits and roofs or awnings be put up to avoid people getting hit by falling objects.

Lawyer Tran Minh Hung of the Ho Chi Minh City Bar Association said that last year, he had handled a case involving a traumatic injury after the victim’s motorbike skidded on a banana peel and crashed on the road. The person who had carelessly thrown the peel was ordered to meet the entire medical bill after the victim was hospitalized.

Hung Giap, manager of a new apartment complex in Hoai Duc District, Hanoi, said that in just a week since his building was occupied, there have been several incidents of objects being thrown by people from high floors.

"The administration board has only been around for a week, but we will definitely have to frame specific rules and remedies to handle such cases. This could be very dangerous."

However, laws prohibit the putting up of nets and roofs over common yards.

A Hanoi construction inspection official said though government regulations clearly state that throwing anything from windows, balconies is prohibited, the practice has reached epidemic proportions.

The penalties for it are also clearly stated, but enforcement depends on public awareness and building managers, he added.

Throwing, discharging and disposing of garbage anywhere other than prescribed places in a residential building, commercial or service facility or public place is subject to fines of VND3-5 million ($129-215) under the laws.

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