Rescued passengers praise unrecognized heroes in ferry accident

Thanh Nien News

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Five men were officially rewarded last month for rescuing 22 passengers of the boat that capsized on January 25 in Quang Binh Province, but there were in fact eight local heroes that day, according to locals.
Not many people know about the other three: Cao Xuan Tiep, Cao Xuan Hao and Cao Ngoc Dung, of the central province's Quang Hai Commune, who rescued 13 more passengers from that tragic ferry accident.
The Quang Hai Commune administration of the Quang Binh Province's Quang Trach District wants to change that – it has just proposed that the government reward them.
The accident in the Gianh River that killed 42 people, many of them holiday shoppers, on the day before the Tet (Lunar New Year) was caused by severe overloading.
Tiep saved seven passengers, but sadly he was unable to find his wife's mother and brother who drowned that day.
He motored his wooden boat to the accident site when he saw the ferry sink and saved whoever he could reach in the water.
"Everyone was struggling to survive and I didn't think about looking for my relatives," Tiep said.
One of the people he rescued, Nguyen Thi Lan, said, "My family would have been in mourning if it hadn't been for Tiep.
"I've read the newspaper and watched TV for days but nothing has been said about him."
Cao Thi Thanh was also grateful to Tiep for saving her and preventing her three children, the youngest one six months old, from becoming motherless.
When Tiep brought reporters to visit the people he rescued, he wouldn't enter their houses but preferred to wait on the street instead, saying he didn't want people to think he had come to be paid for his heroism.
His family is living with a monthly income of less than VND300,000 (US$17).
Hao saved three from drowning. The local boatman said he heard people calling for help and he rowed out to save them. He said he was in too much of a panic to get his motor boat that he had put undercover the previous night.
Hao, Dung and Tiep have all been offering help to families of the accident victims.
Chairman of Quang Binh Province People's Committee Phan Lam Phuong Friday suspended Doan Xuan Thien, chairman of the Quang Hai Commune People's Committee for failing to ensure proper boating safety standards and letting the accident happen.
Phuong also asked the chairman of Quang Trach District People's Committee Dau Minh Ngoc to volunteer for a suitable punishment.
The provincial chairman promised to make a report to the prime minister and discuss each official's responsibility with his committee.

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