At least nine middle school students drowned yesterday afternoon in a river in central Vietnam, a police official said.
The incident occurred in Quang Ngai City when a group of 11 students – nine boys and two girls – went to swim in the Tra Khuc River, said Vo Van Duong, deputy director of Quang Ngai City police department.
“We have retrieved bodies of nine,” Duong, who was at the scene to investigate the case, told DPA. “Traces at the scene show all of them may have jumped into the river at the same time in a game and met an accident.”
Search efforts ended after 3.30pm, after nine bodies were recovered and identified.
The bodies of the boys were found next to each other on the riverbed, Duong said.
“They must have jumped into the water together, right at the same time,” he told AFP, adding that the children had ignored warnings from a local woman who had seen them playing by the river.
The children had been playing in shallow water but the river had recently had a new drainage system added, which made the water up to 2m deep in parts, Duong added.
All victims belonged to the sixth-grade class of a nearby school, the Nghia Ha secondary school, Vietnamese daily newspaper Tuoi Tre reported.
Schools in Vietnam do not teach students how to swim partly due to a lack of swimming pools.
Vietnam’s child drowning rate is among the worst in Asia.
According to a recent World Health Organisation (WHO) survey, 32 Vietnamese children drown on a typical day, or more than 11,000 a year.
State media has reported a far lower figure, that some 3,500 children die by drowning each year in Vietnam.
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