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Thursday, 2 August, 2001, 01:43 GMT 02:43 UK
Schoolgirl dies on Vietnam trip
Amy Ransom
Amy Ransom's party was led by an experienced Army captain
A 17-year-old British girl has died after falling from a mountain during a school trip to Vietnam.

Amy Ransom slipped off a path on Monday while trekking in the mountains of northern Vietnam with school friends, the Foreign Office said.

Amy, a student at Wycombe High School, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, was one of eight pupils taking part in the trek organised by World Challenge Expeditions.

Her fellow pupils, and two teachers who accompanied them, flew by helicopter to Hanoi where they are being looked after by British Consul staff. Arrangements are being made for them to be flown home on Wednesday evening.


All our thoughts and sympathies are now with the family

World Challenge Expeditions spokesman

Amy's death marks a second tragedy for her family.

Her parents lost a son, also aged 17, who died in a car accident three years ago.

A family friend said the Ransoms are too distraught to talk about Amy's death.

The Bucks school party - accompanied by two Vietnamese guides - had been trekking up Fansipan mountain near the village of Sapa when the tragedy occurred.

"She fell around 500 metres down a mountainside but it is unclear whether she died immediately from her fall or afterwards from her injuries," a Foreign Office spokeswoman said.

Inquiry

The Sapa area is very popular with tourists to Vietnam who go to view its beautiful scenery and to visit the villages of different hill tribes.

World Challenge Expeditions, which organises trips for young people across the world, said an internal inquiry had been launched to discover how the accident happened.

map of northern Vietnam
Amy was on a trekking expedition over mountains in north Vietnam

Executive chairman Charles Rigby told BBC Breakfast that Amy had suffered a "very bad fall into a gully" and had fallen around 500ft.

"She was with a guide at the time who fell as well trying to catch her - he didn't slip so far and stopped after 20ft."

Mr Rigby defended his company's safety record, insisting: "It's easy to say one is confident after an accident like this.

'Jungle-trained' leader

"I am confident of the quality of the leaders - they are extremely well-trained, well-qualified and experience.

"The leader in this case is jungle-trained and has been with youngsters like this often."

He said the trek was well supported, but added: "The weather is bad, it was slippery.

"There are many cases of fully-grown adults walking in Wales and Scotland who slip on paths and fall.

"This appears to be the sort of thing that has happened here. There was a genuine accident which I think was unavoidable."

Regret

Buckinghamshire County Council said Amy's trekking party had been led by an experienced Army captain and that safety regulations for the trip were in order.

Councillor Marion Clayton said: ""We believe that the captain held all the relevant experience for this kind of expedition.

"The eight girls were supervised by four adults and one was an experienced Vietnamese guide."

Cllr Clayton spoke of the council's "deep regret" over the tragedy and asked that Amy's family be left alone to deal with their loss.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Navdip Dhariwal
"Conditions had been reported as being dangerous and slippery"
The BBC's Lucy Atherton
speaks to Elizabeth Duffy, Headteacher of Wycombe High School
Charles Rigby, World Challenge Expedition
"The weather was bad, it was slippery"
See also:

04 Jul 01 | Education
Teachers' tight guidelines for trips
06 Jul 01 | Mike Baker
Second thoughts about school outings
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