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Press Digest (October 14-17)

These are some of the leading stories in the Vietnamese press from October 14-17.

October 14


- As of 7 p.m. Sunday, 24 people had died and 71 were injured in an explosion at Z121 factory in the northern province of Phu Tho Saturday morning, said Lt. Gen. Nguyen Duc Lam, head of the General Department of Military Industry under Ministry of Defense, on Sunday. The accident at the monopoly fireworks factory owned by the defense ministry caused an estimated loss of VND52 billion (nearly US$2.5 million).

October 15


- Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has ordered that 424 among of the country's 1,239 (operating or under construction) hydropower plant projects be halted due to their low efficiency, huge negative effects on the environment and local residential life, said Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang in a meeting with the National Assembly's Standing Committee on hydropower plant construction and operation on Monday.

- The Saigon 2 Bridge, around one kilometer long (1.45 kilometers long if including the path lead to the bridge), was opened for traffic Tuesday after 18 months of construction, three months earlier than plan. The nearly VND1.5-trillion ($71.1 million) bridge, which can bear a 7th level Richter earthquake, is expected to help reduce traffic at the old Saigon Bridge.


- Investigators at the Ministry of Public Security have proposed that the Supreme People's Procuracy, Vietnam's highest prosecutors' office, charge Duong Chi Dung, Vinalines' former board chairman, and his nine suspected accomplices, in the purchase of a rusty and badly damaged floating dock with $9 million rather than the $5 million required by the Russian seller, causing a loss of more than VND335.4 billion ($16 million). Dung and three of his inferiors embezzled more than VND26.1 billion from the purchase, and investigators alleged that he used the money to buy apartments for his mistress.

- Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang and Vietnamese Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong agreed in their Monday meeting that the two nations appreciate the development of their comprehensive strategic partnership, and will continue to promote it.


- Vietnam's three major telecom providers, MobiFone, Vinaphone and Viettel, raised fees on many 3G packages by up to 40 percent, from Wednesday. This is the second rise of 3G fees this year but customers are still unsatisfied with the quality of their 3G services.

October 16


- Many big hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City lack toilets, and the available ones are downgraded, dirty and stinky, and many patients and their relatives said they fast rather than step into such toilets.

- Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee has ordered the city's Department of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs to provide the city police with documents related to violations at four local state-run public service firms which paid their top executives "hugely inflated" salaries (with the highest was VND2.6 billion ($123,243) per year for the director of the HCMC Urban Drainage Company), a source said.


- Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh approved a Ministry of Health proposal to adjust fees for hospital services from next year. The health ministry will consider new rates and the timing of the rise so that it is suitable with the country's economic and social situation.

October 17


- As many as seven oil refineries are expected to be operating in Vietnam in the next few years at a total capacity far exceeding domestic oil and gas demands.

- Two Vietnamese-Laotians and one Vietnamese-Canadian were among 49 people, including 44 passengers, killed when a Laos Airlines turboprop plane crashed into the Mekong River flying southward from Vientiane to Pakse in bad weather on Wednesday afternoon, the Consulate General of Vietnam in Pakse said.

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