Hai Phong transport boss faces censure for disappearing during storm

TN News

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A ferry in Hai Phong operates during typhoon Son Tinh in late October, endangering people's lives.

Transport authorities in the northern Vietnamese city of Hai Phong have petitioned the administration to censure their chief for abdicating his responsibility when a typhoon lashed the region in late October.

The Department of Transport's disciplinary council wanted director Dam Xuan Luy to be punished for switching off his phone and allowing a ferry service to operate, endangering people's lives.

With Luy remaining unreachable when Typhoon Son Tinh -- named after a mountain god from Vietnamese folklore -- hit, authorities had to send instructions through his deputy.

Luy told news website Dan Tri that he was at fault for "not following the typhoon situation carefully."

But he claimed that his phone battery had been drained.

The ferry workers have been sacked and their chief demoted, he said.

Hai Phong reported VND1 trillion (US$48 million) worth damage, including to roads and rice crops, saying it was the worst caused by a storm in a decade.

The typhoon, the eighth to hit Vietnam this year and the strongest in 30 years, killed at least eight people, including one in Hai Phong, and left three others missing. Nearly 100 others were injured.

It once again laid bare Vietnam's shortcomings in forecasting storms and managing disaster relief.

The National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting had forecast it would make landfall in the central region, but it ended up further north, which the center later said was "rare" during that time of the year.

It caused total losses of nearly VND7.5 trillion, with power and transport infrastructure severely damaged and crops lost.

In the northern province of Nam Dinh a 180-meter television tower collapsed.

The region's tallest tower had been battered by winds of force 11, or 104 kilometers per hour.

It was supposed to withstand winds of up to force 15, or 181 kilometers, an unnamed construction official said.

Thanh Nien found that the VND50-billion ($2.37 million) tower construction contract in 2006 says it is designed to withstand winds of only 120 kilometers.

Four of the seven earlier typhoons this year killed at least five people in central Vietnam, 36 in the north, and two near Ho Chi Minh City.

The other three blew over causing little damage.

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