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Vietnamese locals grieve for militia member who died saving flood victims

Friday, December 14, 2018, 16:39 GMT+7
Vietnamese locals grieve for militia member who died saving flood victims
The star fruit tree where Duoc’s corpse was found

The flooding in central Vietnam had only just begun to subside when the townspeople of a commune in Quang Nam Province gathered to pay respects to a local militia member who died after exerting efforts to save helpless victims of a storm this month.

Inundation and flashfloods unleashed their havoc on several central provinces from December 9 to 11.

To counter the disaster and help those in need, local youth unions and militia banded together to help victims escape to safety.

But just as the immediate threat of the flooding began to wash away, the townspeople of My Cang Commune, Tam Thang Ward, Quang Nam were struck with a final, crushing blow of bad news: militiaman Truong Van Duoc, 30, an enthusiastic hero who saved many from the disaster, had passed away in a pool of cold, stagnant water after two whole days of battling the devastation.

A  portrait of Truong Van Duoc
A  picture of Truong Van Duoc

The final struggle

On December 9 and 10, flashfloods ravaged households by the hundreds in My Cang, catching local residents completely off guard and prompting the flood and storm control committee to whip into action.

Duoc, an active member of both the militia and the committee, spent the storm assisting local citizens in transporting goods to higher ground, looking for trapped individuals, and providing relief to isolated areas.

It was not until late on the night of December 10 that he was finally able to begin his journey home and rest after nearly 48 hours of continuous labor. 

Tragically, the 30-year-old hero never made it back. 

Overcome with exhaustion, he passed away in a pool of cold water en route to his house.  

Duoc’s mother Tran Thi Le, 53, initially thought her son was out helping others and was not concerned when he did not return home on the night of December 10. 

She only began to fear for the worst after he still had not returned by the following morning.

She began searching the area and she found her son lying still in cold water next to a nearby star fruit tree.

“The tragic scene broke hers and his grandmother’s heart,” Duoc’s aunt Tran Thi Dao, 39, recalled.

Duoc’s house was still submerged in flood water after his passing.
Duoc’s house was still submerged in floodwater after his passing. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Responsible and helpful till the end

Local Pham Xuan Duc, 65, recalled Duoc as a responsible and brave man known for helping those in need.

“He still went out to help his neighbors after his own house was destroyed by the flood,” Duc said.

My Cang chairman Bui Viet Son, also a member of the commune’s flood and storm control committee, spoke fondly of Duoc during the crisis.

“Duoc enthusiastically evacuated flooded residents from harm’s way. It’s a shame he passed away,” Son reflected.

He said Duoc was one of the most inspiring people on the committee.

Chau Thanh Phong, chairman of Tam Thang Ward, speculated that after the ordeal Duoc was probably too exhausted to maintain his body temperature in the cold water.

“Everyone is at a loss for such a noble sacrifice,” Phong added.

Local authorities said they would pay for Duoc’s funeral service in light of his sacrifice and his family’s devastated state.

Duoc’s relatives mourn beside his lifeless body.
Duoc’s relatives mourn beside his lifeless body. Photo: Tuoi Tre

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Duy Khoi / Tuoi Tre News Contributor

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