5 teens drown in central Vietnam, six-year-old drowns in HCMC swimming contest

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Five 15-year-old schoolboys drowned when they were bathing in a river in the central province of Binh Dinh on Friday, one of them in an attempt to rescue the other four, Tuoi Tre reported Saturday.

Nguyen Van Hoai, who had also jumped into the river to rescue his friends but gave up in the end because the water was too deep, told the newspaper that 11 students had gathered at a section of the Kim Son River in An Nghia Commune, Hoai An District, around noon that day.

Four of them, all boys, where bathing in the river when they "fell into" a deep water area, Hoai said, adding that he and another student jumped into the river to rescue them, but very soon the other student was swept away as well.

Hoai managed to swim back to the river's bank, where their female classmates were crying for help.

Nguyen Thi Ngoc Hien, one of the schoolgirls, said they could not help their friends because they could not swim.

A Vietnam News Agency said local people rushed to the site in response to the students' cries for help, but they were only able to retrieve the victims' bodies later the same day.

The river section where the accident happened is known for its deep water and swift currents, especially during the rainy season, the news agency said.

In other news, a six-year-old student is believed to have drowned during a swimming competition at the Truong Van Hai Elementary School in Thu Duc District, Ho Chi Minh City on Thursday.

However, the school did not inform the child's mother of the facts, Thanh Nien learnt.

After the accident happened, Do Hoang Phuong Anh's mother was informed by the school management that her child had "suffocated in water" while attending a swimming class and was receiving emergency treatment at the Thu Duc General Hospital.

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The school had sent a notice to the parents about the swimming lesson, but the six-year-old had left in her desk at school, T., the mother, told Thanh Nien.

The school told her that the accident happened while a teacher was checking the list of students, T. said.

The family had Anh transferred to the Children's Hospital No.2 as advised by the Thu Duc Hospital, but her condition worsened the next morning and she succumbed soon after.

Dr. Truong Quang Dinh, vice director of the Children Hospital No.2, said the child was admitted to his hospital in coma and placed on artificial respiratory support.

Contrary to the school management's version of the accident, many parents who were present at the swimming class said it was actually a competition that took place at a pool near the school.

A teacher with the school that day sent about 15 students, including two six-year-old students, to the competition, they said.

Speaking to Thanh Nien on Friday, Le Minh Tuan, head of the Thu Duc District administration, said the school's management has been asked to report on the case.

Around 3,500 children drown in Vietnam every year, and the number has increased over the years, according to the Department of Child Protection and Car, which says drowning is the second leading cause of death in Vietnam after traffic accidents.

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