John Kerry to visit Vietnam next month

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US Secretary of State John Kerry (L, 2nd) walks in Ho Chi Minh City during his Vietnam visit in December 2013. Photo: Dao Ngoc Thach US Secretary of State John Kerry will visit Vietnam from August 6-8, the US Department of State said in a press release Monday. Kerry will meet with senior Vietnamese officials, including Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh to discuss bilateral and regional issues. He will also participate in an event marking the 20th anniversary of the establishment of Vietnam-US diplomatic relations, according to the release. Vietnam will be the final leg of Kerrry’s Asia trip starting on August 2. He is scheduled to travel to Egypt, Qatar, Singapore, and Malaysia before arriving in Vietnam. From August 4-6 in Malaysia, he will attend the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in which he will participate in four multilateral meetings including the Lower Mekong Initiative, US-ASEAN, East Asia Summit, and ASEAN Regional Forum ministers meetings, the … [Read more...]

Thailand aims for upgrade from U.S. trafficking blacklist next year – PM

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Security forces and rescue workers watch as human remains are retrieved from a mass grave at an abandoned camp in a jungle some three hundred meters from the border with Malaysia, in Thailand's southern Songkhla province in this May 2, 2015 file photo. Photo: Reuters/Damir Sagolj/Files Thailand is working flat out to combat human trafficking, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Tuesday, adding he hoped Thailand would be lifted from a U.S. list of worst human trafficking centres next year. The U.S. State Department highlighted in its annual report on trafficking on Monday the suspected role of Thai officials as an obstacle Thailand will have to overcome to stop the trade. The report covered Thailand's efforts to eliminate trafficking for the year through to March. A recent crackdown came too late to persuade the United States to take Thailand off the list, Prayuth said, but U.S. diplomats recognized his administration's intent to end trafficking. "The U.S. embassy has seen our … [Read more...]

Tourists stranded, death toll rises as heavy rain hits Quang Ninh

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Incessant rain in Quang Ninh Province since Sunday has triggered landslides and floods that killed eight people and left six others missing. Colonel Nguyen Duy Tan, the police chief in Ha Long Town, said a major landslide buried three local houses with eight people inside on Monday. Rescue workers have saved one person and retrieved two bodies, and will continue to look for the other five, he said. Earlier, a mother and her two daughters in Cam Pha Town died after their house was flooded in the worst inundation in the history of the northern province. Many places around the town were under four meters of water. Many families have been evacuated out of flooded areas. On early Tuesday, many streets were still being submerged in water. Soldiers have been mobilized to help local residents. Dang Huy Hau, deputy chairman of Quang Ninh People’s Committee, said more than 1,500 tourists have been stranded on Co To Island after all boats were suspended. Quang Ninh has banned all … [Read more...]

Man dies after falling from waterfall in central Vietnam

An 18-year-old man fell from a waterfall in central Vietnam and died during a trip with his friends on Sunday. Huynh Thanh Son climbed up the Ba Waterfall in Binh Thuan Province with three of his friends after they arrived. It just stopped raining and his friends said he slipped and fell when they were taking photos. He could not swim and quickly drowned. His friends screamed for help from the top but no one could hear them. They had to went down and reported the case to local authorities. Ten divers were sent in and they found his body in the evening. Son just graduated from high school and was enrolled in a vocational school in Ho Chi Minh City, where he would be trained to become an automobile repairman. … [Read more...]

Noi Bai Airport catches 2 thieves amid security concerns

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Passengers check in at Hanoi's Noi Bai Airport. Photo: Mai Ha Noi Bai Airport in Hanoi has reported two more jewelry and iPhone thefts, not long after two baggage handlers were caught stealing a smartphone from a passenger. The first case happened at around 6 a.m. on July 25 when passenger Nguyen Van Duc reported to security officers at the airport that he lost two necklaces while waiting to board his flight. The officers later found the necklaces in the locker of Nguyen Thi Tuyen, a janitor hired by a private contractor at the airport. They issued a fine against her. The necklaces were later returned to the passenger. Also on the same day, Pham Van Hiep reported that he lost an iPhone when waiting for his flight to Ho Chi Minh City. The passenger said he was charging the phone at a coffee shop and somebody stole it. Security footage showed a suspect. The woman, 31-year-old Le Thi Hao from Thai Nguyen Province, later confessed to the crime. Hao said she was having coffee at … [Read more...]

Work accidents claim 600 lives each year in Vietnam

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The site of a scaffolding collapse that killed 13 workers and injured 29 others in the central province of Ha Tinh on March 25, 2015. Photo: Le Quan Around 600 people are killed in work-related accidents every year around the country, but local authorities say they cannot do much to prevent these tragedies due to their limited resources, local media reported on Monday. Ha Tat Thang, chief of the Department of Labor Safety, was quoted as telling a government conference the same day that with just about 100 inspectors, his agency could check labor safety standards at only 0.22 percent of all businesses. When accidents happened, Thang said, his agency was in charge of fining violators and if applicable, requesting the police to step in. About 2 percent of labor accidents, or 12 cases, were put under criminal investigations a year, according to Thang. Local media reported that 30 percent of all fatal workplace accidents took place in the construction sector. Le Quang, deputy chief … [Read more...]

Vietnamese official accused of raping 8-year-old girl

Family of a 8-year-old girl in Binh Thuan Province have filed accusations against a local government official for sexually abusing her many times. Officials in Ham Thuan Nam District confirmed that a deputy chairman of the People's Committee of Thuan Nam Town was accused of raping the child. The girl's sister, Nguyen Thi Thuy Dung, said that the official usually took the girl to his villa across the street, claiming that his daughter wanted to play with her. On May 29, the family found the girl to act strangely. When pressed, she told them that she had been violated many times by the official, who also gave her money and asked her not to tell anyone. Tests performed on the police's request showed her hymen had been broken. The family also provided police with text messages from the official, who allegedly asked them not to make a big deal out of the situation. Local media have attempted to contact the official and his office but were rejected. Authorities of Thuan Nam town said … [Read more...]

Two students dead after reservoir release swept them away

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Rescuers look for the second body after two girls were swept away during a water discharge at Dau Tieng reservoir on July 26, 2015. Photo: Giang Phuong A sightseeing trip is southern Vietnam turned tragic on Sunday after two teenagers were swept away by water discharge at a reservoir in southern Vietnam. Rescuers have found the bodies of two 16-year-old girls, who joined seven other 11th graders from Tay Ninh Province in a trip to Dau Tieng Reservoir, about 90 kilometers north of Ho Chi Minh City. According to the other students, they were playing by the Ca Noc Lake near the discharge gate of the Dau Tieng reservoir, which was then releasing water. Four of them were reportedly missed their footing and fell into the lake. Two of them were swept away by the torrent and found dead soon later, while the other two managed to hang on to large rocks and survive. Police are investigating the deaths. Dau Tieng is one of the biggest reservoirs in Vietnam, with the capacity of around 1.6 … [Read more...]

Vietnam destroys 60 illegal gold mines in central region

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Quang Ngai Province's Military Command announced Monday they had destroyed 60 illegal gold mines within 6 days, by one week earlier than previously planned. Government agencies have coordinated with Engineer Corps to carry a ton of explosives to the sites that are located in the mountainous district of Tay Tra that could not be assessed by vehicles, the Command said. The officers had to work 13 hours a day and having lunch right on the site to quickly complete the campaign, they said. They seized many equipment that illegal gold miners buried near the site before felling to avoid being seized. Local police have been mobilized to maintain security after hundreds of illegal gold miners opposed the force and damaged their tents, news website VnExpress reported. Captain Kieu Cong Phuong of Tay Tra District Military Unit said that illegal gold mining are a major problem in the area, causing adverse damage to the environment and threaten social security. "Sometimes, there were up to … [Read more...]

Top officials from anti-ISIS coalition to meet in Canada: sources

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Retired U.S. General John Allen, special envoy for building the coalition against Islamic State, speaks to the media during a news conference at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad January 14, 2015. Photo: Reuters/Thaier Al-Sudani Senior officials from the U.S.-led coalition battling Islamic State forces will meet in Canada this week to discuss how to improve the effectiveness of the campaign, two sources with knowledge of the meeting said on Monday. They said those who will take part in the closed-door gathering in Quebec City on Thursday include retired General John Allen, appointed by U.S. President Barack Obama to build a coalition against the militant group. A spokesman at the U.S. embassy in Ottawa said he could not comment. Earlier this month Allen urged Turkey to do more to stop jihadists crossing its border with Syria. Turkey and the United States are now working on plans to jointly sweep Islamic State fighters from a strip of land along the Turkish border. The Quebec City … [Read more...]

Vinasun cabby found dead in car

The Vinasun taxi in which a driver was found dead on Tuesday morning. Photo credit: Tuoi Tre  A Vinasun taxi driver was found dead in the car on a street of Ho Chi Minh City Tuesday morning; the cause of the death remains unknown,

Tuoi Tre reported. Some people living in Bo Bao Tan Thang Street in Tan Phu District said they heard a "small explosion" from the taxi, which was parked along the street at around 6 a.m. Tuesday. They saw smokes rising from the car’s windows and found later a man already dead in the driver's seat. The man was later identified as Dang Van Thanh, around 40, a taxi driver. Police said they are investigating the death. … [Read more...]

South Korea declares country effectively out of MERS danger

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Women wearing masks to prevent contracting Middle East Respiratory Syndrome walk at Myeongdong shopping district in central Seoul, South Korea, July 9, 2015. Photo: AFP/Kim Hong-Ji South Korea declared on Tuesday it is effectively out of danger from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), more than two months after the first case was reported and began spreading in hospital settings to kill 36 people. The outbreak grew to become the largest outside Saudi Arabia, infecting 186 people and at its peak putting nearly 17,000 in quarantine. It was traced to a man who returned from a business trip to the Middle East in May. "It is the assessment of the government and the medical community that the public can rest easy," Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn told a government meeting on public health. Twelve people remain hospitalized in South Korea and under treatment for MERS although only one is still testing positive for the MERS virus, the Health Ministry said, adding that no new cases have … [Read more...]

The green, green rice fields of Vietnam

The green rice plants

The paddy fields in Lang Son Province's Bac Son Valley look like a checkerboard from high above. Photos credit: Tuoi Tre A valley around 160 kilometers from Hanoi along National Highway 1B is just mesmerizing in the harvest season. Bac Son Valley in Lang Son Province is already famous for its cool climate and its karstic limestone mountains. Every July, it attracts even more people to come and see the stunning green and yellow paddy fields. To have an overview of the valley, you should climb 1,200 steps to the top of Na Lay Mount. … [Read more...]

Manchester City crushes Vietnam 8-1 in pre-season friendly

Manchester City had an easy 8-1 win over Vietnam national football team in a friendly match in Hanoi late Monday with three doubles by David Silva, Raheem Sterling and Aleksandar Kolarov and two more by Joze Pozo and Marco Lopes. The two teams and more than 30,000 thousands at the My Dinh Stadium had a silent moment ahead of the match that took place on Vietnam’s National War Invalids and Martyrs Day (July 27). Manchester City’s manager Manuel Pellegrini fielded strong players, including Manuel Garcia, Silva and the newly-signed Sterling in a US$76.5 million contract, right at the beginning of the match as he had told local media. Manchester City took the lead in the 11th minute with a free kick by Kolarov from some 25m (82ft) away. Sterling made it 2-0 after defeating Vietnam’s goalkeeper To Vinh Loi with a shot near the edge of the box in the 19th minute. Just two minutes later, Silva scored the third goal for City after his header was blocked by To Vinh Loi … [Read more...]

Government may be held accountable for vaccine complications under new rule

A baby receives a vaccine at a clinic in Hanoi. Photo: Ngoc Thang In a rare move that will bring greater accountability into Vietnam's heath care sector, the Ministry of Health has proposed a new rule that will hold the government accountable for adverse complications from vaccination. The rule, expected to take effect next year, comes on the heels of several infant deaths that have been linked to Quinvaxem, a vaccine that Vietnam has chosen for its national immunization program since 2010. Under the proposed rule, the government will have to pay for medical costs and compensation when there are vaccine complications. It will collect the money back from health care workers who are in charge of administrating the shots and their clinics. Since November 2012, at least 15 babies died after getting Quinvaxem, a 5-in-1 vaccine against against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenza type B infections, at public health clinics around the … [Read more...]

Holiday hassles: Tourists concerned about hotel theft, rip-offs in Da Nang

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Restaurants in Da Nang, which have received many rip-offs complaints from tourists recently. Photo: An Dy Nguyen Duc Duong and his family came back from a swim last Thursday night and the hotel receptionist said someone had already taken their room key. He rushed to the room only to find that it had been turned upside down, with his iPad, cell phone and VND26 million (US$1,200) gone. Police in Da Nang are still investigating the case. Duong’s family said what made them really angry and disappointed was the fact that the hotel denied any responsibility. "The hotel pointed the finger right at us even though they should be blamed for poor security in the first place," a family member said. "We are very disappointed. We hope it’s just one single case." Unfortunately it's not. The tourist city, long known for its friendliness and safety, is facing the risk of losing the trust from tourists after several cases of hotel theft. Nguyen Thi Bich Thuy, a tourist from Hanoi, … [Read more...]

New Zealand to share food safety experience with Vietnam

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New Zealand Minister for Food Safety Jo Goodhew (R) and Vietnam's Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat sign the Food Safety Cooperation Agreement. Photo credit: New Zealand Embassy New Zealand's Minister for Food Safety and Associate Minister for Primary Industries Jo Goodhew is visiting Vietnam from July 27-30 to boost bilateral cooperation in food safety. The key objective of the visit is to review existing cooperation between New Zealand and Vietnam in the critical area of food safety and discuss opportunities to expand this in future, the New Zealand Embassy in Vietnam said in a statement. "New Zealand and Vietnam have been cooperating in the agriculture and food safety space for many years, across a wide-variety of activities," Goodhew said. "This Food Safety Cooperation Arrangement I recently signed with Minister Phat is an excellent opportunity to take this cooperation to the next level." "We are very keen to share our experiences with Vietnam on food … [Read more...]

Kuala Lumpur’s $1 billion terminal is sinking, airline says

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Water ponding at Bay Q8 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport's new budget terminal. Source: via Bloomberg Kuala Lumpur International Airport’s new budget passenger terminal is sinking, with cracks appearing in the taxiway and water forming pools that planes must drive through. The defects could cause flight delays, increase wear and tear on planes and pose potential safety risks, according to AirAsia Bhd., the new terminal’s biggest user. Though take offs and landings aren’t affected, the carrier has asked Malaysian authorities to fix the problems before passengers get hurt, Chief Executive Officer Aireen Omar said in an interview in Kuala Lumpur. "The airport is still sinking," Aireen said. The operator, Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd., "has done some partial resurfacing, but what the airport actually needs is a permanent solution." Complaints about the new terminal cap a bad run for Malaysia’s aviation industry, after two deadly accidents for the national … [Read more...]

Vietjet wins Gold Award 2015 from PATA

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The Pacific Asia Travel Association has bestowed the Gold Award 2015 upon Vietjet to highlight its innovative and meaningful campaigns, which have greatly inspired and contributed to tourism development in Asia-Pacific. Outperforming 269 entries from 83 travel and tourism organizations worldwide, Vietjet becomes the first ever prize winner from Vietnam. The award ceremony will take place at the Bangalore International Exhibition Center (BIEC) on September 8, 2015 during the PATA Travel Mart 2015 in Bangalore, India. PATA Gold Award is a prestigious annual prize in tourism that is recognized all around the world. Since its foundation in 1951, PATA has been contributing significantly to regional tourism. As a non-profit organization, PATA has carried out important research and hosted many impressive events and meetings for its members, including 87 governmental agencies, 24 international carriers, airports and sea-freighters, and 59 educational institutions in the Asia-Pacific … [Read more...]