Two ground staff members from Vietnam Airlines Ground Services Company Limited(VIAGS) reportedly suffered a lightning strike during a thunderstorm on the 10th earlier this week at Tan Son Nhat International Airport. Thankfully, both victims survived and are currently in stable condition.
On Monday evening, two ground staff working in the ramp area of Tan Son Nhat International Airport, Ho Chi Minh City ramp, were reportedly struck by lightning during a severe thunderstorm passing over the airfield. At 7:58 pm local time, the two staff members were found lying on the ground after a subsequent lightning strike hit the aircraft they were hiding under. It is believed that the lightning hit the fuselage of the aircraft and the strike indirectly stunned the victims.
The employees were immediately taken to the domestic terminal, where they were transferred to a local hospital for immediate response. The two victims initially suffered from vomiting and haemorrhage, but their conditions stabilised by the subsequent morning.
Further inspections were conducted at parking stand 79 of Tan Son Nhat Airport, where the accident occurred. The aircraft that the employees were hiding under was found to have a scorch mark on its upper fuselage, likely from the lightning strike. The aircraft was sent for further maintenance procedures after the accident.
A spokesman from the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) stated that it is not uncommon to have lightning strikes at Tan Son Nhat International Airport around this time of the year. However, it is rather rare to have aircraft damaged in such occurrences.
Lightning Strike Kills Ground personnel in Hanoi 2020
Vietnam enters the wet season from May until November each year. During the later part of the wet season in around October, tropical storms frequent the country and neighbouring regions. Airports are often disrupted by heavy thunderstorms brought by tropical depressions in the South China sea. On 23rd September 2020, a technician working for Vietnam Airlines Engineering was struck by lightning at work in Noi Bai International Airport, Hanoi. The technician was declared dead on the way to the hospital.
The accident raised concerns among locals about the working condition of airport personnel during severe weather conditions, but history seems to repeat itself. Fortunately, the 2 workers are recovering and are in stable condition in the accident that happened this week.
Frequent Diversions during Wet Seasons
During wet seasons especially in the south of Vietnam, stormy weather often forces flights to divert. On the same night of the accident, at least 2 other flights diverted to Cam Ranh International Airport, Nha Trang, as they ran low on fuel holding over Tan Son Nhat International Airport coming from the north. Foggy weather up north is another reason flights are often diverted early in the morning in Vietnam.
Airport procedures require ramp workers to temporarily cease all operations when lightning strikes are recorded in close proximity to the airport. However, due to the recent staff shortage in the industry, airline staff are pressured to work even in marginal weather conditions. Do you think airport ramp workers are properly protected? Which party should bear the responsibility for the accident? Let us know below.