Mysterious death of diver adds to ongoing environmental crisis in central Vietnam

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An embankment at a port of Formosa in Ha Tinh Province, from which a diver has come back dead. Photo credit: VietNamNet An embankment at a port of Formosa in Ha Tinh Province, from which a diver has come back dead. Photo credit: VietNamNet

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A diver from central Vietnam died a day after working at a port of a Taiwanese steel firm which has been accused of polluting waters and causing mass fish deaths in recent weeks. 
Le Van Ngay, 46, died on the way to hospital on Sunday after suffering chest pains and breathing difficulties, local media reported.
Medical examiners have performed an autopsy. The body has been returned to the family but local media said the results have not been announced. 
His coworkers at the International Manpower and Construction JSC (Nibelc), a contractor of the steel firm Formosa in Ha Tinh Province, said he dived down a port of the company on Saturday for construction work at an embankment project.
There has been serious concern about the sea water in Ha Tinh after a large number of fish have washed ashore over the last two weeks, apparently killed by industrial effluents. The same situation has been going on in nearby provinces Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue.
Suspicion has centered on Formosa, a major company in the Vung Ang Economic Zone. The firm, officially known as Hung Nghiep Formosa Steel Company (FHS), admitted that it has a large sewage pipe going straight into the sea, but claimed repeatedly that the discharged wastewater has been treated.
Ngay’s colleagues, who have been working for years, said they have not felt well after swimming in the sea recently.
Nguyen Thieu, 36, told Tuoi Tre newsaper he has been working for three years but only noticed unusual health conditions in recent week. 
“I have been unusually tired, with chest pain and dizzy after every swim.”
Thieu said the tone of his skin has also changed. 
He said his colleagues told him they have had the same experience.
A representative from Nibelc told news website VietNamNet that a lot of workers at the company are worried about water pollution affecting their health.
“But any feeling about health impacts might just be a psychological thing. We do not know the cause for sure yet.”

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