Three boys drown in Phu Yen pond
Three boys drowned on Tuesday in the central Phu Yen Province, while they were playing in a pond.
The pond had been built by local people in the province’s Tuy Hoa Town for the purpose of watering flowers in a nearby cemetery. The boys, aged between 11 and 13, failed to swim to safety in the 500sq m pond, which is 3m deep and has freezing water.
The boys were playing in a group with two girls, who tried to stop them from jumping into the pond.
Funerals are being held for the unfortunate children.
10,000 Mekong Delta households get electricity before Tet
The Electricity of Việt Nam’s Southern Power Company (EVN SPC) set up a transmission line to electrify households in the Mekong province of Trà Vinh on Monday.
The construction of the transmission line includes a nearly 63km-long middle-voltage transmission line, a 340km-long low-voltage transmission line, and 167 transformers with a total capacity of 3,005 kVA.
This is the second phase of the project to supply electricity to homes that are not yet connected to the national grid, mostly households of the Khmer ethnic minority in Trà Vinh.
The project requires investment of nearly VN Đ100 billion (nearly US$4.7 million), 85 per cent of which will come from the State budget and 15 per cent from EVN SPC’s counter capital.
The new transmission line will help electrify some 10,000 households in Trà Vinh before Tết.
EVN SPC said that the third phase of the project to electrify households in Trà Vinh Province is underway. Costing nearly VNĐ90 billion, the project aims to supply electricity to more than 6,300 Khmer households in the Mekong province.
On completion, the project will help increase the rate of electrified Khmer households in Trà Vinh from the current 93.8 per cent to 97.41 per cent, and the rate of total households connected with the national grid in the Mekong province from 98 per cent to 98.6 per cent.
Boat rescues fisherman from sea
A fisherman was rescued, while two of his companions were missing after their fishing boat sank off the central Quang Tri Province.
The border guard unit in the province’s Con Co Island reported that a fisherman has been hospitalised there for exhaustion.
The guards said that a local fishing boat found the man named Vo Van Son, a resident of the neighbouring Quang Binh Province, floating in the ocean, holding a large plastic can, and rescued him.
Son told the guards that he and two other fishermen were fishing when a strong wave overturned their boat.
Relocated families get drinking water supply
Families in the mountainous Hong Thuong commune in the central Thua Thien – Hue Province have got access to fresh water, a couple of days ahead of Tet (Lunar New Year).
A total of 146 households that had given land for the construction of the A Luoi hydropower plant reservoir in A Luoi District in 2007, were using contaminated water for years after they were relocated to a location far from their original home.
The plant’s authorities ended the delay in providing fresh water to the commune this year, following pressure from the local media and social organisations.
The households are facing a shortage of cultivable land as well.
Hai Au Aviation offers free tickets
In celebration of seaplane services in southern Viet Nam, including tailor-made charter flights and scheduled flights between Ho Chi Minh City and Phan Thiet, Hai Au Aviation is offering a special promotion with ticket fares of zero Vietnamese dong.
Customers who book round-trip flights between HCMC and Phan Thiet this month will receive a free return ticket. One-way trips from Phan Thiet to HCMC this month are offered at a 20 per cent discount.
In early 2015, Hai Au Aviation embarked on its first journey in southern Viet Nam with two charter flights, bringing international tourists from Tan Son Nhat airport in HCM City to the idyllic beach town Phan Thiet.
With a fleet of three brand-new Cessna Grand Caravan 208B-EX seaplanes based in Tan Son Nhat and Noi Bai airports, Hai Au Aviation now offers tailor-made private charter flights to more than 20 destinations in Viet Nam and Cambodia, as well as daily scheduled flights Ha Noi – Halong Bay and HCMC – Phan Thiet.
Nghe An opens tourist info centre
The Nghe An Tourism Promotion and Information Centre has opened a tourism desk located in the arrival station at Vinh airport.
Covering an area of 18 sq.m, the tourism information desk will help provide information, consultancy to visitors and support them to seek local tourism information and nearby areas.
Nguyen Thi Huong, the centre director, said the centre would work with agencies, tourism operators and transport firms to offer visitors the best assistance and a friendly, welcoming environment.
Train derails in Quang Binh
A train, carrying hundreds of passengers from Ha Noi to HCM City, derailed on a stretch of the North-South railway in the central Quang Binh Province at 10pm yesterday.
The derailment in Hien Ninh Commune destroyed about 300m of the railway line and brought rail transport on the stretch to a standstill for five hours. No casualties were reported.
The provincial railway management company sent 150 workers to repair the line.
Due to the derailment, trains are being allowed to travel at just 15kmph on the stretch to ensure safety, the local railway management agency said.
Normal train services at 70kmph are expected to be resumed in about three days, the agency added.
The cause of the accident is yet to be identified.
Authorised local agencies are investigating the case.
Ban on firecrackers violated in Quang Tri
The police have come across 18 violations of the ban imposed on burning firecrackers in the central Quang Tri Province.
The burning of firecrackers took place in the province’s Lao Bao Township, where the Lao Bao border post is located. The head of the local police unit said the penalty had been imposed in only four of the cases because the violators were children.
Transportation, trading, storage and burning of firecrackers is prohibited in Viet Nam. But in the township, which shares a border with Laos, some firecrackers had been smuggled into the country.
Firecrackers were traditionally burnt by the Vietnamese to welcome Tet (Lunar New Year), but a thorough ban has been imposed since 1990, due to the fatal risks of burning caused by firecrackers.
However, many people across the country have not given up the desire to burn firecrackers even after 24 years, resulting in the violation of the national ban.
Banana price rise cuts losses of farmers
Banana prices in the Central region have suddenly increased ahead of Tet (Lunar New Year), saving farmers and traders from facing heavy losses.
Banana is the key fruit used in the worship of ancestors during Tet. A couple of days ago, the banana market in the central Quang Tri Province, which serves as the main supplier of bananas for the neighbouring provinces of Quang Binh, Thua Thien-Hue and Da Nang, had witnessed very low sales.
The situation changed abruptly on February 15, four days ahead of Tet. The prices went up by almost seven times, from VND70,000 to VND500,000 (US$24) for a branch with about 15 fruits on it.
The sales have been increasing as well. According to a report by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, several large trucks have been entering and leaving the province’s Tan Long banana market, carrying supplies for the other provinces.
The sudden increase in demand has been seen in the northern localities as well, such as Ha Noi, Hai Phong and Nam Dinh.
The increase in sales and prices has freed farmers and traders of worry about losses. Ho Van Hon, a banana grower in the province’s Huong Hoa District, said that the rise in prices has helped his family to earn a good sum of money for Tet shopping.
Other farmers are delighted that they will not be forced to dump unsold fruits.
Seafood sector resumes work in Ca Mau
Nearly 9,000 workers in 11 frozen seafood export processing factories in the southernmost province of Ca Mau resumed work on February 20 after the Tet (Lunar New Year) vacation.
Chairman of the provincial Seafood Processing Association Ly Van Thuan said that there are 33 frozen seafood processing factories with 27,000 workers in the province.
The rest of the factories will resume operations on Sunday andTuesday, the fourth and the sixth day of the Lunar New Year, he added.
Chairman of the Tran Van Thoi District’s People’s Committee Luu Minh Nhat said that up to 545 fishing vessels had moored in Song Doc Town, more than a month after going out to sea to bring back the first batch of fish of the Lunar New Year.
Nguyen Van Nhan, owner of three fishing boats in Song Doc Town, said that most of the vessels that went fishing this time had good catches of shrimp, cuttlefish and other fish varieties. The total yield brought back on the first day of the Lunar New Year was estimated to weigh more than 30
Nhan added that the fishermen will rest for two days and resume fishing on Sunday.
Director of the provincial department of agriculture and rural development Le Van Su said that in 2015, the province will aim for 520,000 tonnes
of seafood yield, 40,000 tonnes higher than last year. The export turnover is set to reach US$1.4 billion, an increase of $100 million over 2014.The province has implemented measures to achieve the targets, including making breakthroughs in seafood cultivation, enhancing the capacity of offshore fishing vessels and boosting export capacities.
Thousands of poor labourers given free trips home for Tet
Over 4,300 low-income workers in industrial zones in Hanoi such as Thang Long, Quang Minh and Noi Bai on February 15 set out on their trips home for the traditional New Year on buses provided free of charge by the municipal authorities.
This is the second year Hanoi has arranged free of charge transportation for disadvantaged workers to help them go home with families to enjoy the year’s most important festival.
Another 17 coaches are planned to depart from seven locations in the city on February 16 to bring more workers home in time for Tet.
In a similar action on the same day, the southeastern province of Binh Duong also helped 1,172 workers return home. Their bus tickets were paid by the provincial trade union organisation.
According to the Chairman of the provincial Labour Federation, 106 enterprises in Binh Duong have also funded expenses to travel home for more than 20,000 workers.
Seed reserves to supply local farmers
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Thanh Nam has issued an official copy of 2015’s national seeds reserve, with the goal of providing enough seeds and seedlings for nationwide agricultural production.
Farmers nationwide will receive 1,667 tonnes of plant seeds, 1,400 tonnes of rice seeds and 267 tonnes of maize seeds. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) asked reserve units to supply the seeds and seeds free of charge.
The central seeds company will provide 790 tonnes of rice seeds and 190 tonnes of maize seeds, while the southern seeds joint-stock company plans to supply 280 tonnes of rice seeds and 42 tonnes of maize seeds. Thua Thien-Hue domestic animal and seedling joint-stock company will provide 330 tonnes of rice seeds and 35 tonnes of maize seeds.
The ministry’s farming department will be in charge of distributing seeds to the provinces that need them.
The ministry also asked the Central Fruit and Plant Seeds Company to supply 13.7 tonnes of vegetable seeds from the national reserve fund.
This includes 3 tonnes for the northern province of Lang Son, 8 tonnes for Quang Tri, 1.5 tonnes for Phu Yen and 1.2 tonnes for Khanh Hoa.
Local authorities will be responsible for allocating seedlings to farmers and report to the ministry every month.
Tran Manh Bao, General Director of Thai Binh seedlings joint-stock company, said the Government should set up a law on seedlings and
improve administrative procedures to recognise new seedlings.
A strategy to develop the agricultural seedling sector is in the works. Currently, 65 percent of hybrid rice seeds are imported.-
Improving conditions for migrant workers
The Vietnam Labour Export Association (VLEA) began a series of audits of employment agencies earlier this year after a surge in complaints involving migrant exploitation.
Many agencies were breaching employment rules by short-changing migrants and failing to keep full records, an investigation had found.
VLEA President Nguyen Luong Trao recently said there were a lot of unscrupulous businesses who were taking advantage of migrant workers and it was an absolutely massive problem.
Trao added that the VLEA has been working with about 90 members to clean up their act and comply with a code of ethics in their dealings with migrant workers.
We have also put improved internal controls in place to ensure improved oversight and supervision of the agencies along with a much improved evaluations methodology, Trao said.
This year the VLEA has directed its member to improve the quality of workers and services to fulfill its target for sending 100,000 workers to foreign markets and has been particularly focused on the Taiwan (China), RoK and Japan markets.
Traffic accidents kill 81 in last two days of lunar year
As many as 112 road traffic accidents occurred nationwide on February 17-18, leaving 81 dead and 52 others injured, according to the National Traffic Safety Committee.
On February 18, just one day before the beginning of the lunar New Year, 38 people lost their lives in accidents.
During the two days, traffic police force handled over 4,700 cases of violations of regulations on traffic safety, while sequestering 31 cars and over 1,000 motor bikes, and confiscating 165 driving licences.
Police forces across the country have planned to ensure public order and traffic safety on the New Year’s Eve, when large crowds are expected to flow into the streets to usher in the New Year.
Gun found in cargo at Tan Son Nhat airport
Ho Chi Minh City Police and the security centre at Tan Son Nhat Airport are investigating an incident when a disassembled Sharp Tiger-branded black gun was found in a package among goods registered by the Saigon Cargo Service Corporation.
According to Tan Binh District Police, regular checks at the airport on February 11 spotted a suspected parcel, which was going to be loaded on Vietjet Air’s flight to the central city of Vinh at 17h40 the same day. More careful inspection found the gun.
Initial information showed the parcel was declared as “an industrial nozzle”, by an employee of BHK transport commerce joint stock company.
The employee said the parcel was sent to BHK by another goods transport company, Kerry.
The Kerry Company told investigators they had received the parcel from a person named Hoang in Binh Thuan to send to a person in the northern province of Cao Bang.
Two charged in dismantling of major drug ring
Thai Nguyen province police in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Security have dismantled a major drug distribution organisation following a lengthy investigation, culminating in the arrest of two people.
Authorities reported that those charged were all upper-level dealers, who had outstanding warrants for other charges at the time of their arrest, in what is being called the largest drug bust of record in the province.
Law enforcement officials ultimately seized 200 heroin cakes along with 400 ecstasy tablets and as yet undisclosed amounts of cash and other property suspected of being associated with the illegal enterprise.
The two men arrested were identified as Pham Van Thao, 34, a resident in Tan Duong village, Dinh Hoa district, Thai Nguyen province and Le Van Hoat, 31, a resident of Chau Giao village, Giao Thuy district, Nam Dinh province.
Truong Sa islands welcome Tet
Spring has come to the Truong Sa islands and naval soldiers stationed there are stepping up preparations to welcome the traditional Lunar New Year festival away from home.
In addition to vegetables grown and food produced on the islands, Tet gifts have been sent to the soldiers from the mainland including beef, sticky rice, dong leaves, and even pickled onions.
In a small kitchen of the housing platform at Da Thi island, also known as Petley Reef, Private First Class Pham Duy Quang was sitting next to a big fiery pot to boil sticky rice cakes, preparing the necessary ingredients to make stir-fried beef.
Quang said that although this was his first Tet away from home, the bond of comradeship on this island warms his heart during this traditional lunar New Year festival.
“It’s not easy to express my feelings, which are mixed with anxiety and excitement, to welcome my first Tet away from home on the island. I’ve been stationed on this island for 6 months and this has become a home to me. I’ve learnt to make sticky rice cakes and prepare other traditional dishes for Tet,” he noted.
Senior lieutenant Le Van Tuong is a Political Commissar on Da Thi island. He said, “Thanks to Tet gifts sent to us from the mainland, we have had all items of necessity to welcome Tet. We’ve organized some entertainment activities for our soldiers during Tet including music performances and some folk games.”
At Da Nam or South island, soldiers are cleaning and decorating their main hall with parallel sentences, apricots and peach flowers are sent from the mainland to welcome Tet. A tray of five kinds of fruits to offer to the Genies on the New Year Eve has also been prepared.
Lieutenant Vu Van Khac-Political Commissar on the island said, “The bond of comradeship on the island helps lessen my homesickness, especially during the traditional lunar New Year festival, the time for family reunions. It’s both our duty and honor to welcome Tet on the island and we’ll do our best to fulfill any tasks assigned to protect national sea and island sovereignty.”
Second in Command of the Navy Brigade 146, which is in charge of taking over the Spratly Islands, Colonel Ngo Duy Do, said naval soldiers are now enjoying much better living conditions than they did a decade ago. They can watch TV and listen to State President’s Tet greetings and wishes on the Voice of Vietnam during Tet, which makes them feel closer to the mainland:
“Soldiers stationed on the islands here are like a family. The older ones are fathers and uncles while the young are sons and brothers. Each family member is in charge of a duty to prepare for Tet: one is in charge of wrapping sticky rice cakes while the other will make pork paste and other traditional dishes for this special occasion. It’s really like a family preparing for Tet,” he added.
Inclusive education for girls and women with disabilities
The United Nations’ Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Vietnam Institute of Educational Sciences (VNIES) have jointly held a dialogue in Hanoi to discuss a policy on education for girls and women with disabilities.
At the event, delegates talked about the right to education of girls and women with disabilities in legal documents, social policies and experience to facilitate their integration at school.
A photo exhibition prepared by children with disabilities was held on the sidelines of the event, helping delegates further understand their thinking and wishes and then develop proper policies to meet their needs
Prof. Dr. Tran Cong Phong, head of VNIES, said that the event provides a good opportunity for scientists, researchers and managers to compare notes on inclusive education involving girls and women with disabilities. He also hoped that policies and amendments will be made to have more social concern for girls and women with special needs.
Tet gifts come to poor, ethnic minority families in Ha Giang
Thousands of Tet (Lunar New Year) gift packages have been handed to poor ethnic minority or disadvantaged households in all 11 districts and city in the northern mountainous province of Ha Giang, according to Tran Duc Quy, Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee.
Gift packages, worth 200,000 (9.38 USD) to 500,000 VND (23.45 USD) each, include warm blankets and clothes, rice, noodles and some other basic commodities given by social or charity groups to help poor ethnic minority families to enjoy a warm Tet.
Ha Giang has six out of the country’s 64 poorest districts. The majority of local populations in these districts are ethnic minority people. Severe climate, a lack of farming land and water shortage hinder agricultural production which is the main livelihood of local residents. As a result, the rate of poverty in the districts is as high as more than 50 percent.
“Cow bank” project brings incomes to needy people
The “cow bank” project, which was initiated by the Vietnam Red Cross (VRC) in 2010, has so far donated nearly 13,000 cows to low-income people in 58 districts and 257 border communes nationwide, helping improve their livelihood.
Over 2,000 calves born to these cows were then presented to other underprivileged households.
By the end of 2014, the VRC received an award from the Asia-Pacific Fundraisers’ NetWork (APFN) for this creative project.
The society will organise a review programme in May 2015 to honour outstanding contributors to the project.
Till then, it will continue donating cows to needy households in targeted border communes and poor districts, prioritising those from central Quang Nam and Quang Ngai provinces.
The “cow bank” project is designed to help impoverished people in indigent districts and border communes to escape poverty.
Between 2013 and 2014, each poor district received 100 cows, while each border commune got 10 cows under the project.
This is the largest project the VRC has carried out across 63 cities and provinces nationwide, according to VRC Vice Chairwoman Tran Thi Hong An.
It has also received warm response from the public, she said.-
Needy homes in Dak Nong lit up on Tet
More than 17,000 poor, ethnic households across Dak Nong have their homes lit up greeting the Lunar New Year festival as the national grid eventually reached 43 rural communes in the Central Highlands province.
The results were attributable to a provincial investment of over 250 billion VND (11.6 million USD) to build 652,066 km power lines and 162 transformer stations in the localities since 2013.
Between 2010 and 2014, the province also used a loan worth some 170 billion VND (7.9 million USD) from the German Development Cooperation Agency for improving energy efficiency in rural areas. The project upgraded and built facilities to ensure stable connections to a power supply for Dak Rlap, Cu Jut and Tuy Duc districts.
Currently, 92 percent of local households have access to the national grid, including 87 percent located in rural, mountainous and border areas.
By the end of 2015, Dak Nong aims to ensure power is accessible to 95 percent of the rural, mountainous and border households.
Vietnam sets target for sustainable poverty alleviation
Vietnam aims to reduce the rate of poor households by 1-1.5 percent each year under the updated standards of poverty between 2016 and 2020, according to the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA).
The updated standards of poverty, currently under development and will take effect from 2016, extend beyond the use of income as the only determination of poverty to include the minimum living standard and the access to basic social needs.
MOLISA Minister Pham Thi Hai Chuyen said the ministry will focus on developing new poverty criteria on a multi-dimensional approach while advising the government in revising its poverty reduction mechanism and policies to limit investment dispersal and ensure priority is given to mountainous and ethnic minority areas.
According to Direction No 23/CT-TTg issued on August 5, 2014 by the Prime Minister, only two national target programmes will be implemented between 2016 and 2020: the Sustainable Poverty Alleviation Target Programme and the New-style Rural Building Target Programme.
Under this guidance, the MoLISA proposed a National Target Programme Framework for Sustainable Poverty Alleviation which closely follows
the Public Investment Law and the Government’s Resolution No 80/NQ-CP on the direction of sustainable poverty alleviation from 2011 to 2020.
Besides the target in poverty rate reduction, the programme framework also looks to enhance access to basic social services, improve infrastructure, and double the income of households rated as poor compared to the 2015 level.
In 2014 alone, a total of 34.7 trillion VND (1.65 billion USD) was allocated for poverty alleviation efforts, 30.8 trillion VND of which came from the State budget and the remaining 3.8 trillion VND from other sources.
The rate of poor households dropped from 14.2 percent in 2010 to 2 percent in 2014 thanks to national poverty alleviation efforts.
The rate of disadvantaged households in impoverished districts was also reduced from 50.97 percent in 2011 to 33.20 percent in 2014, an average decrease of 5 percent per year.
Foreign students in Vietnam welcome Tet
Over a hundred of foreign students enrolling in universities, colleges in Hanoi are celebrating the traditional Lunar New Year (Tet) festival in Vietnam.
Lou Varvas from France, a student from Hanoi University, shared that this is the first time he joined in celebration of a Vietnamese Tet. He said he has learned numerous special cultural features of Tet, and is looking forward to trying Tet foods during the festival.
Riccaroi Bessard (Canada) has celebrated Tet for three times. He said the festival is a special time where family members get together and share good foods and beautiful wishes, hoping for a more prosperous new year with joy, good health and happiness.
Among Hanoi-based schools, the Hanoi University has the largest number of international students with over 700 students who come from 26 different countries worldwide.
It has become a tradition for the university to hold a year-end meeting for its foreign students to help them understand more about the Vietnamese traditional New Year festival.
Mountain town blooms with Tet markets
Sunday is the most anticipated day for ethnic minorities in the Sin Ho district of northern mountainous Lai Chau province, as it is the day when they traditionally gather together and buy necessities at their local market.
The last Sundays before the lunar year are the busiest and most crowded times in the market.
Waves of ethnic people coming from numerous distant villages, including H’mong, Dao, and Day, walk or ride horses and motorbikes to the town centre, loaded up with farm products destined for the Sin Ho market.
The market is filled with the colours of traditional ethnic costumes, the smoke of boiling pots, and the savoury fragrance of noodles, fried cakes and maize wine.
Phan A Long, nearly 80 years old, has never missed a market day during the Tet holiday even though his house is more than 10 kilometres from the market.
“The Tet market is different from others; it’s more crowded and has more products.” Long said, “I hope to stay healthy and continue coming to Tet markets in the coming years”.
Medicinal herbs are also a typical feature of the Sin Ho market. On the last day of the year, the Dao traditionally take a bath with medicinal plants they pick from the nearby forest, so stalls selling the plants are always bustling and busy.
The Sin Ho market is more than a trading place, but also a venue for cultural exchange among locals.
Situated on the Sin Ho plateau of Lai Chau province, Sin Ho town is located on the highest peak, over 1,500 metres above the sea level, and
surrounded by verdant mountain ranges and puffy clouds. The small town is colloquially called the Roof of Lai Chau or the second Sa Pa of the northwest.
Three successful stem cell therapy cases recorded in Hue hospital
Le Kieu Diem, 40, diagnosed with breast cancer was discharged from Hue General Hospital in stable condition on February 13, becoming the third cases successfully treated with stem cell therapy at the Hue General Hospital so far.
Prior two ovarian cancer patients – Tran Thi Thu, 49, and Le Thi Sau, 52, were also released from the hospital with the same therapy.
The success was the result of a national-level scientific project on applying stem cell therapy in treatment of breast and ovarian cancers which has been carried out by Deputy Director of the hospital Nguyen Duy Thang and his associates over two years.
According to Thang, the stem cell therapy has achieved initial achievements that open a new hope for breast and ovarian cancer patients at the critical state at the hospital in particular as well as the country’s health sector at large.
Vietnam has carried out stem cell research and application in medical treatment since the 1990s. The technology has been used in the treatment of blood diseases, cardiology, dermatology, brain paralysis, and surgery.
In 1995, the country conducted its first stem cell transplant for a 26-year-old patient with blood cancer.
By now, many hospitals have applied the technology in health treatment, including the Nghe An province’s Oncology Hospital, National Paediatric Hospital, Military Hospital 108 and August 19 Hospital, the Haematology and Blood Transfusion Hospital, Hospital 115.
Hundreds of stem cell transplants have been carried out nationwide so far, primarily for patients suffering from blood diseases.
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