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Deadly accident triggers concerns, calls for better administration of kite flying in Vietnam

Deadly accident triggers concerns, calls for better administration of kite flying in Vietnam

Friday, March 20, 2015, 13:57 GMT+7

The death of a little boy in a kite flying accident late last week has sparked grave safety concerns among local kite flyers and authorities, who feel urged to tighten control over the activity.

>> Tragic death of Vietnam kid caught in huge kite recalled in detail (video)

Van Minh Dat, 5, dropped to his death from a height of around 20 meters after his legs were entangled in a huge kite’s strings and he was heaved up with it on the afternoon of March 15.

The tragic accident happened in Dong Dieu in Ho Chi Minh City’s outlying district of Hoc Mon, as members of a local group called Saigon Kite Club were flying the huge kite on a pilot basis in preparation for a kite festival to be held in Vung Tau, a seaside city about 100km away.

This huge kite snagged a five-year-old boy's legs, taking him up into the air and causing him to drop to his death on March 15, 2015. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Hidden perils

Both representatives of competent agencies and insiders admit that there are loopholes regarding safety issues and administration of kite flying, which has boomed in large cities in recent years.

Witnesses and experts who were interviewed by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporters all agree that kite flying, which is a seemingly innocuous pastime, has potential hazards, even deadly ones.

As Tuoi Tre reporters observed on a typical day, almost ten kites of various sizes were entangled in electricity wires above National Highway 22 and Ba Trieu Street in Hoc Mon District.     Thinh, a local who often frequents the areas where people gather to fly kites and watch the activity, said it is not a rare sight to see kites with strings snapped.

Kites often collide with one another and drop onto passers-by, he added.

Other popular kite fields in Ho Chi Minh City include the areas behind Tan Binh Industrial Park in Tan Binh District, Tran Quang Co Bridge in Hoc Mon District, and inside the Thu Thiem New Urban Zone in District 2.

Locals and visitors defy signs banning the sale of kites and kite flying along District 2’s Tran Van Khe Street.

Residents in the neighborhood said they once witnessed a passer-by being rushed to the hospital after a snapped kite string wound around that person’s neck.

Do Van Luu, chair of the Saigon Kite Club, confirmed that small kites’ strings can cut and wound a passer-by if the strings drop onto them.

People, particularly kids, tend to stand on sidewalks or even in traffic lanes to maneuver their kites, which places themselves and others in peril.

Mindless fliers even pursue their hobby under high-voltage electricity wires.

Some kites are entangled in electricity wires above National Highway 22 in Ho Chi Minh City's Hoc Mon District. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Huynh Cong Binh, general director of Tieng Song Co., and vice head of the 2014 Ho Chi Minh City Art Kite Flying Festival, noted that kite-associated risks are mounting as more huge kites, which span dozens and even hundreds of square meters, have been used in recent years.

Such craft can carry loads of dozens of kilograms with them into the air. New-generation kites also feature engines and are remotely controlled.

The oversized kites pose serious accident risks and criminals can also make use of them for destructive purposes, Binh stressed.

Administration loopholes

Luu, head of the Saigon Kite Club, admitted that his club of around 20 members has operated and performed for several years but has yet to register with any agency.

The members just choose large, windy areas with few buildings or electricity poles as their practice venues.

Phan Nguyen Nhu Khue, director of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Culture and Sports, acknowledged that the majority of kite clubs in Ho Chi Minh City operate spontaneously and are spurred mostly by their members’ common passion for the sport.

“After making an inventory of local kite clubs, the department will tighten its control and make sure that the clubs adopt safety procedures to avoid such tragic consequences,” he noted.

Tran Thi Thu Huong, an official in Hoc Mon District, said local authorities will hang signs banning kite flying in certain areas to ensure public safety in the coming time.

Meanwhile, Phan Dinh Trung, deputy chair of the An Khanh Ward People’s Committee in District 2, said his staff members have confiscated kites from peddlers and even slapped fines on them.

“We will suggest that construction site owners erect fences to stop people from flying kites in certain areas. Residents should also provide tips-off about those flying large kites in their neighborhoods,” he stressed.

Binh, the vice head of the 2014 Ho Chi Minh City Art Kite Flying Festival, underlined that during kite flying festivals, any kids without accompanying adults are supposed to be taken to the organizers to ensure their safety.

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