Thursday, October 05, 2006

Parachute Boy survives wild ride

Source: China Daily

Residents of typhoon-ravaged central Viet Nam are taking hope in the amazing story of a baby boy who survived when he was ripped out of his house and sent flying along with the home's roof.

Le Ngoc Dong, 13 months old, was blown over a three-storey school before landing in a pond 150 metres away, his family says. His fall was cushioned by a bed of floating plants that also kept him from sinking until his father plucked him out.

"It's a miracle," said his father, Le Van Vinh, a 35-year-old welder in the city of Danang. "My son is very lucky. My family is very lucky."

The infant has gained the nickname "Parachute Boy" after his wild ride.
"Everyone here knows his story," said a doctor in Danang's Thanh Khe Hospital, who said the boy sustained only a slight head injury. "He's very lucky he fell into the plants."
The baby was sleeping in a cradle hung from a roof beam in his small home on Sunday morning as his family and some friends sheltered from Typhoon Xangsane.

When the 117-kilometre-per-hour winds tore the roof off the house, the cradle and little Dong went flying with it. His father and two friends immediately ran out and saw the roof and the cradle fly over a nearby school as they gave chase.

A neighbour, Vo Van Hoa, told a local newspaper he also saw the strange sight of the flying roof and cradle.
"When the roof was in the air, it broke into two parts," Hoa told the paper. "One part fell down on the school and the other part flew over the school and into the pond behind it."
When Vinh and his friends caught up, they found baby Dong's cradle in a bamboo stand and the baby himself sinking slowly in the pond, slowed down by the aquatic plants known as "duckweed."

The boy retrieved, everyone returned to ride out the rest of the storm in the now-roofless house, which eventually collapsed, though no one else was injured.
Now homeless, Dong's father said the whole family still feels like celebrating.
"My house has collapsed and we're staying with relatives while I rebuild," Vinh said. "But I will hold a party to celebrate my son's miracle survival."

The death toll in Viet Nam from Typhoon Xangsane rose yesterday to 52 with another seven people missing, officials said, as the clean-up operation swung into full gear.
Local media said most of them were electrocuted or had been killed by fallen trees or collapsed houses.

Although the typhoon has moved on since slamming into central Viet Nam early on Sunday, officials said they were still worried about floods and landslides as rains remained very heavy in some areas.

Hundreds of thousands of houses were wrecked when the powerful storm struck the country. Several provinces have been flooded for four days and have no electricity.
Some 500 people were injured in the storm, according to latest reports.
Typhoon Xangsane earlier killed more than 200 people in the Philippines. At least 22 others there were still listed as missing.

DPA - Agencies

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