Large whale buried in glass tomb in southern Vietnam

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The body of a 15-ton whale found dead at sea last month was buried in a glass tomb in the southern province of Bac Lieu on Thursday morning, allowing local people who worship the giant mammal to come pray at the site.

According to Hoa Binh's authorities, the tomb housing the 16-meter long mammal was 17.2 meters long, 7.2 meters wide and one meter high.

It was estimated to cost some VND300 million (US$15,723), including over VND100 million contributed by local people who suggested preserving the giant ocean mammal as it is often worshipped as the God of the sea.

Hoa Binh's People Committee chairman Tran Van Tam said the tomb would serve as a scared place for local people to pay respects to the whale. He said it would also be a tourism site that could prompt the district to launch its plans to build an ecological tourism area sooner than expected.

Since news about the largest-ever whale found in Bac Lieu spread last week, thousands of people from all over the country have come to see it every day, encouraging a variety of food and drink vendors to set up shop nearby, said lieutenant-colonel Nguyen Van Dang, head of the local border guard unit.

However, Khuu Le, vice director of Bac Lieu Department of Natural Resources and Environment, warned that the whale body would only remain preserved for "several" years, as the main preservative - formol, a 10 percent solution of formaldehyde in water was used with limited amount given its giant size.

In the meantime, related agencies were yet to release the cause of death as well as the age and species of the whale, which was found dead some 26 sea miles off Vinh Thinh on February 21.

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