Experts have warned about rip currents – fast-flowing rough water caused by a meeting of currents – off the Vung Tau coast where at least 60 people have drowned since 2010 and hundreds of others were rescued this year.
“It depends on the wind season and Thuy Van is one of the beaches in Vung Tau where rip currents are common,” Tran Van Truong, director of Vung Tau Tourism Areas Management, said.
“Most rip currents here are five to 10 meters wide and stretch 20-40 meters from shore. But sometimes they are up to 60 meters wide and 100 meters long.”
Thuy Van has an average of seven rip currents along every kilometer, he said.
Phung Duc Vinh, a lecturer at the Vung Tau Tourism College, said: “Sometimes people stand in water chest deep but a rip current just a few steps away creates a very deep area. Those who can’t swim will drown easily.”
Truong said his agency has 33 rescuers on Thuy Van, which stretches from the foot of Phan Chu Trinh Mountain to Vung Tau Paradise Resort.
A graphic from the Nha Trang Maritime Research Institute shows a rip current and recommends escape routes for swimmers.
“They are professional rescuers. However, they are only equipped with swimming blades and nothing else.
“Four watch towers along the three-kilometer beach share one speedboat. Rescues depend mainly on humans.”
According to the Vung Tau Tourism Areas Management, rescuers have saved 471 people so far this year.
The beach, a two-hour drive from Ho Chi Minh City, has attracted 3.54 million visitors so far this year.
Many ignore warnings about swimming before 5 a.m. and after 5 p.m. when rescuers are not available on the beach, while some are drunk.
The owner of a resort on Thuy Van Beach, who asked to remain unnamed, said many resorts do not put up warning flags about rip currents for fear of losing customers.
Besides, sometimes tourists remove the flags without being aware of the danger, he added.