Rip currents pose threat in central Vietnam beaches

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The Nha Trang Maritime Research Institute explains how swimmers can escape a rip current

Scientists at the Nha Trang Maritime Research Institute have identified rip currents - strong currents flowing seaward from the shore in Khanh Hoa Province and called for improving its feeble rescue system.

Le Dinh Mau, the institute's deputy director, said there are many rip currents in Hon Chong, Nha Trang, and Dai beaches.

In Nha Trang, 20 people were killed and 154 others were rescued between 2004 and 2010.

Since last October five people have drowned and rescuers have saved 30 others.

Mau said the city's beaches are sloping and uneven, and rip currents form easily in such conditions when the sea is rough.

There are two dangerous zones along Pham Van Dong Street  in the north of the city, including a permanent rip current south of Ba Lang Dyke where five people have drowned in the past.

"There is a broken coral reef section along the shore, which causes a very strong rip current," Mau said.

"People like to swim there because there are no strong waves."

There are many rip currents even in calm seas along the 12-km Dai beach in Cam Lam District, and 25 people have died there.

Nha Trang and Dai beaches have no warning signs or buoys.

Nha Trang only has 28 lifeguards for dozens of kilometers of beaches, and Dai beach, six.

The researchers have called for educating the public about the rip currents, installing warning signs, buoys, and lifeguard towers, and recruiting more lifeguards

Le Thi Diep Thao of the Khanh Hoa Department of Science and Technology said her agency is drafting plans to improve safety on the beaches that are expected to be executed in June.

According to the Nha Trang Maritime Research Institute, swimmers should know how to swim away from a rip current, never swim alone, and stay away from the water if there is the least doubt about safety.

If swept away by a rip current, swimmers should stay calm and not try to swim against the current. Most deaths are thought to be caused by swimmers tiring after fighting the current.

Instead, they should swim along the beach to get out of the rip current, which is usually narrow, before swimming back to shore.

In case they are unable to do so, they should try to stay afloat while shouting and waving for help.

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