Two students injured by falling branch in HCMC downtown

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A college student was hospitalized with serious injuries after a large branch of a sidewalk tree fell and landed on top of her and another high school student in downtown Ho Chi Minh City Saturday.

The accident took place on Le Duan St., right in front of the US Consulate in the city. The branch of the peacock flower tree (Caesalpinia pulcherrima), measuring about 15 meters in length and 30 centimeters in diameter, fell from the height of seven meters.

Ngo Hoang Nhu Thuy, 20, who was riding a motorbike, was hit directly by the falling branch and broke her left leg. Tran Hai Nhi, 18, who rode another motorbike behind Thuy, escaped with minor injuries on her hands and arms.

Both motorbikes were damaged.

Both girls were brought to hospital while police and workers from the city street plants company showed up to examine the site.

According to authorities, many trees planted on the sidewalks of  Ho Chi Minh City as well as Hanoi are faced with different kinds of human damage.

Hundreds of sidewalk trees in Ho Chi Minh City were uprooted during typhoon Pakhar, a rare one hitting the city, in April 2012.

Phung Quang Chinh of the Vietnam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment said when the sidewalks are completely paved over, little space is left for roots to breathe or take in nutrition, forcing trees to grow roots above the ground and become unstable.

Many trees were also killed by street vendors who 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, he said.

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