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Residents trapped in deadly apartment blaze in Vietnam capital

Bynewshuntexpress

Sep 13, 2023

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HANOI — At least eight people are known to have died and dozens were injured in a huge fire in an apartment block in Vietnam’s capital Hanoi.

Some 70 people were rescued from the nine-story building, state media said. Local reports put the toll far higher.

The fire, which broke out during the night, has been extinguished but rescue operations are continuing.

Authorities in fast-growing Hanoi say many newly-built apartments do not meet fire safety regulations.

The city’s population has quadrupled to 5.25m in the past 20 years.

Local media, citing city police, have said that more than 30 people died in the apartment fire, including a number of children.

Its cause is being investigated but witnesses said it started in the parking floor of the building, which was packed with motorbikes.

Residents described hearing a loud bang at around 23:00 local time on Tuesday (16:00 GMT), and then seeing black smoke rising through the building.

One family said they had to escape by smashing the metal railings blocking their window, and putting a ladder across to a neighboring building.

“I heard a lot of shouts for help. We could not help them much,” Hoa, a woman who lives nearby, told the AFP news agency.

“The apartment is so closed with no escape route, impossible for the victims to get out.”

Another witness saw a little boy thrown from a high floor to help him escape the flames, AFP reports.

“The smoke was everywhere. I don’t know whether he survived or not although people used a mattress to catch him,” she said.

Fifteen fire engines were sent to assist but could not get close to the burning apartment block because the alley it was in was too narrow.

The blaze highlights the challenges of managing fire safety in the region’s fast-growing and poorly regulated cities.

A year ago, 33 people died in a fire at a karaoke club in southern Vietnam where windows were bricked up, blocking escape.

There have been many similar tragedies in other South East Asian countries like Thailand, where regulations were found afterwards either to be inadequate or in many cases simply not enforced. — BBC

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