Retribution as humans destroy Hanoi roadside trees

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A falling tree pulled down a power pole during typhoon Kai-Tak in Hanoi in August 2012. Photo by Ha An

Many trees on Hanoi's streets are dead or dying due to human callousness and toppling on passers-by with deadly consequences, especially during storms and rains.

One such victim is in hospital and had to have both her spleens removed an wear splints for her broken clavicle after a tree fell on her on Ngo Gia Tu Street, Long Bien District, on June 24.

An old African mahogany (Khaya senegalensis) on Tran Binh Trong Street, Hoan Kiem District, fell the same afternoon, snapping electrical cables and uprooting a power pole, and collapsing the roof of a nearby bus station. No one was injured.

On August 17 last year 160 trees toppled or shed branches during typhoon Kai-Tak, killing a taxi driver in his vehicle and damaging many houses and dozens of motorbikes.

Phung Quang Chinh of the Vietnam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment said trees all over Hanoi have "health problems."

Yet it is not easy for trees to uproot and fall, and people are to blame for doing many things that damage them, he lamented.

Trees are planted on sidewalks that are almost completely paved over, and there is not enough space for their roots to breathe or take in nutrition, he said.

The suffocation causes the trees to grow roots above the ground, and this makes them unstable, he said.

Many trees have been killed by street vendors who sheltered under them and threw leftover cooking oil, hot charcoal, and boiling water on their trunks.

Many trees' roots rotted because of too much rainwater from house gutters and hot water from air-conditioners.

Hanoi sidewalks have around 45,000 trees, many of wich are dead but not removed.

Four sao den (takians) nearly 20 meters tall on Lo Duc Street are dead. So is an African mahogany on Ly Nam De Street that is dozens of meters tall. The trunk of an old banyan tree on Dien Bien Phu Street has become hollow.

Local media also reported public and experts' concern over sidewalk trees in Ho Chi Minh City after hundreds of them were uprooted during typhoon Pakhar, a rare one hitting the city, arrived in April 2012.

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