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Hundreds of thousands of fish die off in Vietnam as heatwave roasts Southeast Asia

By Amarachi Orie, CNN

(CNN) — A mass fish die-off in a reservoir in southern Vietnam’s Dong Nai province has shone a new light on soaring temperatures in Southeast Asia.

Fishermen have been working to wade through and collect the hundreds of thousands of dead fish that have blanketed the 300-hectare Song May reservoir amid a ferocious heatwave.

Intense drought swept through Vietnam’s south in April as temperatures soared to nearly 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), leaving farmers struggling to keep their crops alive.

Community members and local media are blaming the drought, heatwave and problems with the reservoir’s management as contributing factors.

Recent photos show fish layered on top of one another, muddied, dry and disintegrated.

The water in the lake was reportedly too low for the animals to survive as there has been no rainfall for weeks, according to AFP.

Nghia, a resident from the province’s Trang Bom district, told AFP that the fish “died for lack of water,” adding: “Our life has been turned upside down over the past 10 days because of the smell.”

Even with numerous buckets and nets, removing all the fish appears to be almost an insurmountable task.

Local media has suggested that as many as 200 tons’ worth perished after a failed attempt to renovate the reservoir, according to AFP.

In images, the reservoir bed can be seen visibly dried up, cracked and muddied, with the clustered dead fish floating in the remaining water.

Nghia told AFP that the effort to renovate the reservoir included a pump being brought in to remove mud so that the fish would have more space to move.

The reservoir provides water for crops in the Trang Bom and Vinh Cuu districts, and its management had previously discharged water from it in an attempt to save crops downstream, Nghia said.

Tuoi Tre newspaper reported that extra water initially planned to be released into the reservoir for the fish was instead diverted downstream because of the “unrelenting heatwave,” according to AFP.

Authorities are investigating the mass die-off as efforts continue to remove the dead fish, AFP said.

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