​Excavator driver escapes death after landslide pushes him off cliff in northern Vietnam

The horrific incident was caught on camera

The landslide occurred along National Highway 12 in the northern Vietnamese province of Lai Chau on June 26, 2018. Photo: Hoang Anh Tuan

An excavator driver miraculously escaped death after a landslide nearly swept him off a highway in the flood-stricken northern Vietnamese province of Lai Chau.

Pham Van Sang and his colleague were using separate excavators to clear mud and rocks left from a recent landslide on a section of National Highway 12 in Sin Ho District, Lai Chau on Tuesday evening when a new mudslide sent a fresh wave of debris tumbling down a mountain flanking the road.

While his colleague managed to evacuate his machine in time, Sang was still inside his excavator when it was pushed off a 50-meter-high cliff.

After the fall, Sang managed to climb about three meters back up the cliff before passing out from fatigue.

Video: Hoang Anh Tuan

He was later brought to the Lai Chau Province Hospital for emergency treatment. 

The victim suffered three broken ribs, injuries to two vertebrae and his cheekbone, and pulmonary effusion, doctors said, adding that they performed an emergency surgery to remove fluid from his lungs.

Sang regained consciousness shortly after the operation, but will need to rest a few months before returning to work.

“I noticed when the mudslide started pushing my vehicle, but it was already too late,” Sang recalled, still in shock that he was able to survive the fall.

The Pham Van Sang’s excavator at the bottom of the cliff. Photo: Hoang Anh Tuan
Pham Van Sang’s excavator at the bottom of the cliff. Photo: Hoang Anh Tuan

Several mountainous provinces in northern Vietnam have been pounded with heavy downpours since Saturday night, particularly Lai Chau and Ha Giang, resulting in serious floods and landslides.

At least 21 people have been killed and nine have gone missing since the disaster began.

Countless houses, farms, and roads in the areas have all been devastated, with financial damages estimated at VND450 billion (US$19.8 million).

Sang being treated at the hospital in Lai Chau Province. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Sang is being treated at the hospital in Lai Chau Province. Photo: Tuoi Tre

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