Power utility accused of electrocuting, killing people in northern Vietnam

TN News

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An attorney for families in the northern province of Thai Nguyen is demanding that state-owned power monopoly Electricity of Vietnam pay compensation for allowing a giant faulty wire to electrocute and kill people.

Scanned photos show a boy suffering from stunted growth and rashes that locals blame on a 220kv-cable in his neighborhood in Thai Nguyen Province.

Thirty-three different families have said that a 220 kilo-voltage wire running through their neighborhood has been terrorizing them.

The difficulties have prompted 23 of the complaining families to leave the area already, abandoning their own homes and fields to rent houses and work as hired hands. The ten other families said they were too poor to move.

EVN compensated families in the zone once before, including VND224 million (US$10.746) to the household closest to the project, but the family said the damage was much more, and they also need proper relocation.

They have authorized lawyer Tran Vu Hai from Hanoi to represent them at a negotiation with the company this month.

Hai said he will require EVN to do what it failed to do in the beginning, which is to designate exactly what area is needed for the project and then properly move people from the zone.

He said the Ministry of Industry and Trade, and Thai Nguyen administration, must order EVN to fix the problems.

Electric avenue

The residents said the wire had "electrified" their quiet neighborhood and led to myriad health conditions.

Residents have been complaining of suffering regular headaches, fatigue, chest pains, difficult breathing, and body pains, news website VnExpress reported Friday.

Some people were electrocuted while bathing or using water, and had to be rushed to hospital, according to the report.

The report said that residents blamed the wire for the health problems and even a few deaths, including Nguyen Duy Hung who died in 2008 at age 60 after experiencing a sudden headache.

Duong Cong Son, 10, is underdeveloped physically and mentally after the wire caused him to be electrocuted inside his own home last month.

Nghiem Thi Tuyen, now 31, and her baby had to have tumors removed in 2010. Tuyen's house is eight meters from the wire's nearest station, and the wire runs over her land. She said the wire had caused weak eyesight and unstable blood pressure in ten members of her family.

Several children have suffered stunted growth, she said.

In the latest case, a boy was electrocuted by the wire on July 24 and is still hospitalized.

The cable began running power in December 2007. It starts in nearby Tuyen Quang Province and stretches 40 kilometers over Dai Tu District, where the families live, and Thai Nguyen Town, the province's capital city.

It has not only harmed people's heath, the families said, but all elements of their life, including their farm work and other activities that need electronic devices.

Pigs and cattle have had premature deliveries and eggs have not hatched, they said. Livestock has been skinny and some have died after only two or three months with tumors in their heads and uteri.

Tea, the major crop in the province, is not growing well, while metal working tools are all electrified and cannot be used, according to the allegations from the families.

Electrical home appliances like television have exploded from short circuits, the residents said.

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