HANOI: Tonnes of dead fish washed up in Hanoi’s largest freshwater lake over the weekend, prompting the city's mayor to call it an unprecedented mass fish death, and raising questions about water pollution in the Vietnamese capital.
Witnesses said they started seeing dead fish on Friday (Oct 3) in Hanoi's West Lake - one of the city's popular scenic spots - with the situation worsening over the weekend.
The "first time an incident of this kind is happening in Hanoi's West Lake", says the Chairman of Hanoi People's Committee. (Photo: Tan Qiuyi)
Nguyen Duc Chung, Chairman of Hanoi People's Committee, told Channel NewsAsia: “This is the first time an incident of this kind is happening in Hanoi’s West Lake. We have mobilised all available forces to collect [the dead fish], to not let any environmental disaster hit the city. We’re trying to find the cause so that we can prevent this from happening to the city’s other lakes.”
More than a thousand people, including the military, have been deployed in clean-up operations, with some using small nets and even straw baskets to scoop up the rotting fish by hand. About 60 tonnes of rotting fish has been collected so far.
Clean-up operations underway at Hanoi's West Lake. (Photo: Tan Qiuyi)
An estimated 4,000 cubic metres of untreated wastewater is discharged into the lake every day from homes and businesses, according to the lake’s management board. According to VnExpress International, authorities said that some of the dead fish have been sent for testing to determine the cause of death.
Vietnam is still reeling from an industrial incident that wiped out the seafood industry on its central coast earlier this year, linked to Taiwan’s Formosa Steel.
Thousands protested on Sunday against a steel plant run by one of the company's units, Formosa Ha Tinh Steel, which has admitted that its US$10.6 billion steel plant was responsible for massive fish deaths along a 200-kilometre stretch of coastline in April.