Mekong swimmer ‘drowns’ in trash

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Six months after Frenchman Remi Camus ended his six-month, 4,400-kilometre swim down the Mekong River in Vietnam’s Tien Giang province last year, he has returned to seek partners for his initiative to collect rubbish dumped in the world’s 10th-longest river.

While in Ho Chi Minh City, the 30-year-old former restaurant manager attended the VietWater exhibition, looking for “someone crazy like me” who would support his initiative to collect pieces of plastic and aluminium cans in the river.

Remi also showed students at local schools and universities pictures he’d taken during his long journey. “Asia is beautiful and people are nice, but the river is so dirty!” he says before giving a lecture at the American International School.

If Camus’ initiative gets off the ground, he plans to pay locals for the rubbish they collect and sell it to recyclers. He’s already lined up some sponsors for his non-profit foundation, Expedition Terre Inconnue, whose aim is “to provide clean and safe drinking water to every person on earth”.

Camus wants to start in Vietnam and then expand the clean-up effort to countries upstream. “I had heard a lot about the Mekong before my journey, but I was not aware that the problem was so serious,” he says.

“During my trip I thought a lot about the environment, the people, the culture and the tradition of people living near the river. Throwing rubbish in the river has become a habit for them.”

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