Officials are still awaiting test results but fish farmers believe that untreated waste discharged by factories along the Dong Nai River had killed a large number of fish in just one night.
A total of 241 families in Dong Nai Province said they woke up on Monday and found most of their fish dead, floating on the river surface. There has been no official estimate of the damage.
Nguyen Dinh Thanh estimated that he lost more than VND1 billion (US$44,400) after more than 10 tons of fish died. He said the fish was almost ready for sale.
For more than ten years locals have been setting up fish farms along a branch of the Dong Nai, which is the longest river that runs entirely within Vietnam.
They said the fish started dying in a small number first on December 31, and while they were waiting for local officials to investigate the cause, the fish suddenly died en mass.
Another farmer, Nguyen Van Duong, estimated his family lost around VND550 million ($24,500) worth of fish.
Nguyen Van Duong's family lost around VND550 million ($24,500) worth of fish. Photo: Le Lam
Nguyen Thi Gian, Duong's wife, said in tears: “We’ve lost everything. I don’t know how we’re going to live.”
The farmers said the fish must have died because of waste discharged by many factories along the Dong Nai. “Only chemical pollution in the water could kill that many fish that fast,” one of them said.
A local fisher also supported the theory as saying that a lot of fish living naturally in the river have been dying as well.
Do Chi Kien, a local economic official, said test results on the water quality are expected to be available on Tuesday.