Tragedy as nine student drown in central Vietnam river

By Hien Cu, Thanh Nien News

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Grandmother Nguyen Thi My burst into tears when hearing that her grandson, Cao Ngoc Vu, drowned in the river. Photo: Hien Cu Grandmother Nguyen Thi My burst into tears when hearing that her grandson, Cao Ngoc Vu, drowned in the river. Photo: Hien Cu

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In what is possibly the most tragic mass drowning in the country in recent years, nine sixth-grade student died in a central Vietnamese river this afternoon.
The boy students, aged about 11, were classmates in Nghia Ha Junior High School in Quang Ngai City.
They drowned while swimming in Tra Khuc River at around 2 p.m.
Classmate Tran Thi Ha Phuong said the nine students decided to swim in the river as the weather was too hot.
She said she later saw two of them struggling, but thought that they were playing.
It took some time before Phuong and her friends realized that the boys disappeared in the river and shouted for help.
Local people and search and rescue divers rushed to the scene, but it was too late.
A diver told Thanh Nien that the students' bodies "piling up on one another's" on the river bed, about 3 meters deep.
All the bodies were recovered by 3.20 p.m.
 The students' bicycles and clothes left on the river bank. Photos: Hien Cu
Search and rescue personnels prepare to dive in the river searching for the students 
 A police officer interviews Nguyen Van Nghia, who was among the first people to search for the students
 A police officer interviews a student who was present at the time of the tragic drowning
The part of Tra Khuc River where nine students drowned on Apr. 15 
Search and rescue personnels prepare to dive in the river searching for the students 
The World Health Organization has reported that drowning is the leading cause of death in Vietnam among children aged five to 14.
The Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs has said the number of children drowning in Vietnam is 10 times higher than in other developing countries.
The country experiences an average of 3,500-4,000 drowning deaths annually.
In a country with 3,260 kilometers of coast, innumerable rivers, canals and ponds, the government has failed to make swimming lessons part of the school curriculum.

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