Vietnamese boy dies 4 days after falling into concrete pillar

The prime minister has ordered an investigation into how the accident happened.
By RFA Vietnamese
Vietnamese boy dies 4 days after falling into concrete pillar The construction site in Thanh Binh district, Dong Thap province, where a 10-year-old boy became trapped in a concrete pillar, in a picture taken on Jan. 2, 2023.

UPDATED AT 8:06 a.m. ET ON 01-04-2023

A 10-year old boy who fell into a hollow concrete pillar in Vietnam’s Dong Thap province has died, Zing News reported Wednesday, citing the province’s Provincial People’s Committee Vice Chairman Doan Tan Buu.

It said rescue teams still plan to pull the pillar from the ground to recover the child’s body.

Hao Nam had been trapped in the pillar since 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, the Vietnamese online news site reported.

Although the construction site had been fenced off with wire, the boy and his friends managed to get in to forage for scrap metal. Hao Nam fell into the 25 centimeter (10 inch) diameter pillar, which had not yet been filled by construction workers, according to the Nhan Dan newspaper.

Ho Chi Minh City Ferry Bridge Construction Joint Stock Company and T&T Transport Construction Service Trading Company are building a bridge on the site in Dong Thap’s Thanh Binh district.

Dong Thap Department of Transport and the provincial Traffic Construction Investment Project Management Board are managing the project with the Institute of Transport Science and Technology supervising construction.

On Monday, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh ordered relevant agencies to focus on rescuing the child. He also asked the Ministry of Construction to coordinate with other ministries to inspect the site for any violations of the law.

children play.jpeg
Vietnamese children playing next to a river. Credit: AFP

There have been several accidents involving children on Vietnamese construction sites in recent years. A few weeks ago, rescuers saved a 5-year-old girl who fell into a concrete pit on a site in Dong Nai province. In August 2020, a 7-year-old child fell into an uncovered drain at a Bien Hoa city housing project and died.

Construction engineer Nguyen Van Quang told RFA the latest incident should be considered partly the responsibility of the contractor, even though a child – not a worker – was involved.

“The contractor is the person who organizes the construction of the work according to the approved design documents. In the process, the company must ensure all aspects of the work, with occupational safety paramount,” he said. “Letting children into the construction site without barriers is related to occupational safety.”

Quang said the project consultant also needs to be held responsible because they need to be knowledgeable about the correct safety procedures in order to guide the contractor.

Lawyer Dang Dinh Manh told RFA the project’s investor should take responsibility: “to compensate the [child’s] parents if they suffer grief or illness as a result of the incident.”

Manh said the contractor may also be held criminally liable.

“The reason is that they have sloppy construction procedures and no measures to ensure the safety of people entering that area,” he said.

Vietnamese government statistics show that each year, more than 370,000 children on average are injured in accidents, with 15 to 19-year olds the biggest group, followed by 5 to 14-year olds, and the smallest group being 0 to 4-year-olds.

This story has been updated to say the boy has died.

Translated by RFA Vietnamese. Written in English by Mike Firn.


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