Three schoolgirls drown in central Vietnam

By Hien Cu, Thanh Nien News

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Friends burn incenses at the funeral of their friend who was among three student drown in Quang Ngai Province's Tra Khuc River on May 22. Photo credit: VnExpress Friends burn incenses at the funeral of their friend who was among three student drown in Quang Ngai Province's Tra Khuc River on May 22. Photo credit: VnExpress
Three secondary students drowned while swimming across a shallow river in the central province of Quang Ngai on Thursday.
The victims - Ngo Thanh Hang, Ma Thi Thuy Trang and Phan Thi Bich Hang - were all enrolled in the 9th grade at Tinh Giang Secondary School.
After a tutoring session, the victims and three others headed to the Tra Khuc River in Son Tinh District to bathe.
Five students waded across the shallow river, while another refused to follow.
When they returned, the water had risen, Thanh Hang, Bich Hang and Trang drowned while two others were saved by the student who refused to cross and several nearby residents.
The bodies of the three deceased girls (all of whom couldn't swim) were found later that day.
A teacher at Tinh Giang school said all three deceased schoolgirls were good students despite their difficult circumstances.
Thuy Trang began living with her grandparents as a young child after her parents migrated to Ho Chi Minh City seeking work.
Bich Hang lost her mother four years ago and lived with her grandmother and her twin sister Phan Thi Bich Hien, who was the only student to refused to wade across the river.
On May 14, five children aged 6-9 drowned in a similar fashion in Quang Tri.
Their parents and neighbors in Quang Tri Province's Cua Viet Town learned of their fate when the children, two of whom were siblings, failed to come home for dinner.
They found the kids' slippers by the Hieu River, near Cua Viet Bridge. Their bodies were retrieved from the riverbed later that evening.
Locals believe the children may have slipped into a deep spot in the riverbed which created by sand extraction in the area.
Official figures show that more than 6,000 children drown annually in Vietnam, and that number increases each year.
The Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs said the number of child deaths due to drowning is 10 times higher in Vietnam than in other developing countries.
The country has 3,260 kilometers of coastline, plus innumerable rivers, canals and ponds.
Experts have blamed the government for failing to make swimming lessons a part of the standard school curriculum.

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