Last update 3/9/2011 10:00:00 AM (GMT+7)

Hanoi fails to catch Hoan Kiem turtle

VietNamNet Bridge – After several hours trapped in a net, the legendary turtle in Hoan Kiem Lake slipped from the net and swam away at around 1 pm, March 8, to the disappointment of thousands of witnesses.

Workers on March 8 began the task of trapping the ailing giant turtle to bring it to the Turtle Tower in the middle of Hoan Kiem lake for treatment.

Nearly 40 workers jumped into the lake to draw the net ashore.

They captured the turtle in their net but the turtle slipped from the net.

A volunteer named Le Quoc Dung who joined workers to draw up the net, commented: “The old turtle is very strong”. He said that the turtle got through the first net and tore a hole in the second net and swam away to the southern part of the lake.

After the turtle escaped from the nets, workers and volunteers went ashore and collected their nets.

Many witnesses showed their disappointment. Some walked to the southern part of the lake to follow the turtle.

Hoang Luan, 23, from Tu Liem district, Hanoi said that he was present at the lake at 8 am to see how the legendary turtle was “invited” to the shore. He said that workers used tools which looked “very rudimentary” and he showed worries for the turtle’s health because “hewas excited”.

Tran Van Thanh, 60, from Tran Xuan Soan street, Hanoi, was also at the lake from the early morning. “I think that there are many obstacles inside the lake so it was very difficult to pull the net,” he said.

“From now on until the turtle is brought ashore, we have to ensure that he is not hungry. I watched the video featuring himeating a dead fish. It proves that he is unable to seek food,” Thanh said.

Le Thuy Nga, from Lo Su street, said she was very glad to see the local authorities pay attention to the health of the ancient turtle. “They should have treated his wounds a long time ago. I live near the lake so I’ve seen him resurfacing everyday with wounds. It is very pitiful”.

Le Xuan Rao, director of the city Department of Science and Technology, said the turtle is expected to be brought to the tower this weekend.

According to Dr. Ha Dinh Duc, who has been doing research on the legendary turtle for more than 20 years, Hoan Kiem Lake is around 1.4m deep in rainy season and around 1m in dry season. However, the lake’s mud layer is more than 1m deep.

The process of catching Hoan Kiem turtle on March 8:

At 5.30 am, workers began releasing nets over the lake and then narrowing the net to drive the turtle to the western part of the lake.

Thousands of people sat around the lake to see the job. Whenever the turtle raised his head, they shouted “That’s him, the ancient turtle!”

Many people tried to move to the edge of the lake to observe the mission. Reporters grouped up to film and take photos. People voluntarily joined workers to pull the net.

Guards made a safe corridor and asked witnesses to leave the lake. The road around Hoan Kiem Lake was stuck.

Two divers were sent to the lake to define the position of the turtle. Experts and officials were on four boats to supervise workers.

The Hanoi authorities on March 7 afternoon decided to catch the turtle by net, not wait for him to climb up on the sand bank around the Turtle Tower as previously planned.

The fate of the Hoan Kiem lake has not only attracted the local media but also international media. BBC, MNSBC, CBS, etc. have wrote about the turtle, which is facing extinction.

The mission in pictures: