Rumor triggers Calambac rush in central Vietnam

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People destroy a forest as they dig for Calambac a precious fragrant wood - in the central province of Khanh Hoa

An unconfirmed report of a man earning a fortune after selling some kilograms of precious fragrant wood in a forest in the central province of Khanh Hoa has prompted thousands to rush to the area over the last week.  

A Tuoi Tre report Wednesday quoted Nguyen Tien, deputy chief of Khanh Son District, as saying that as of Tuesday some 100 people from various localities were still waiting around Gop Nga forest for local guards to "make mistakes" so they can enter the forest.

"We are on duty 24/7 and keep encouraging them to leave, so it is very likely that they will leave in the next few days," Tien said.

On Tuesday the district authorities assigned forces to restrict entry to the forest in response to the rush for Calambac - the dark resinous heartwood that forms in Aquilaria crassna (Agar Wood) trees when they become infected with a type of mold.

Pham Hong Son, deputy chief of Khanh Son District, told Thanh Nien that since September 18, every day between 400-500 people from nearby provinces like Quang Nam and Quang Ngai had entered the forest to find the rare wood.

They divided areas among them in the forest, logging trees, including big ones with the diameters of between 30-50 centimeters, and digging an area of some 2,000 square meters, Thanh Nien reporters found.

However, most of them left after finding nothing and running out of food and money.

Duong Thanh Mong, a 59-year-old wood hunter from Quang Nam province, told Thanh Nien that he was a xe om driver who had made his way to the forest after hearing that someone in Quang Nam's Dai Loc district found the wood and earned tens of billions of dong.

"I also wanted to try my luck, but I have been in the forest for many days without finding anything. I left because I ran out of money," Mong said.

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Meanwhile, Le Nho Tam, deputy chief of Dai Loc District's police division, said related agencies have yet to identify the person who is said to have found the wood.

According to experts, Calambac is expensive because it is believed to bring good luck to its owner, if not the finder, and to have the capacity to treat some incurable diseases.

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