Quang Binh Province in central Vietnam has seen tons of fish washed ashore the past month, and a recent check by divers found bottom creatures have also been dying en mass.
Thanh Nien reporter on Saturday joined a local fishing boat with two divers to check the water around three sea miles offshore.
After around 30 minutes, the divers came up with coral pieces in unusual colors, and decaying bodies of sea cucumbers and shell creatures.
“The water at the bottom is very dirty and there’s a very uncomfortable stink, possibly because of the dead fish decomposing,” one diver said.
Then both of them had a shower with fresh water -- the thing they never did for years in the job, saying it could help wash off as much of whatever poison in the sea as possible.
The two divers said they were worried for their own health but they needed to check for themselves after their colleagues came back describing layers of dead sea creatures in the seabed.
Local fishers also said the nets they cast offshore kept coming back empty in recent days.
Tuoi Tre newspaper on Sunday also released videos showing few living creatures in waters once known for large seafood populations off Quang Binh.
A diver shows what he found under the the water around three sea miles offshore in the central province of Quang Binh on May 7, 2016. Photo: Hue Minh/Thanh Nien.
“The sea is really dying,” said one diver who helped capturing the footage.
Quang Binh’s environment department and the Marine Natural Resources - Environment Survey Center on the same day had divers inspect the seabed but they did not allow reporters to come along.
At least 100 tons of dead fish have been washed ashore the past month in Quang Binh and nearby provinces of Ha Tinh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue, apparently killed by industrial effluents.
Suspicion has centered on Taiwanese steel firm Formosa, which admitted it has a large sewage pipe going straight into the sea. But it claimed all its discharged wastewater had been treated.
Vietnamese across the country have been anxiously waiting for a satisfying answer for the protracted case, which has tested the ability of the country to detect and handle large-scale disasters.