24 May 2024, 10:29

Large apartment fire in central Hanoi kills 14 people

HANOI, May 24, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - A fire ripped through an apartment complex in
central Hanoi early Friday, killing 14 people and injuring three others,
police said.

Smoke and toxic gases billowed out of the building in Cau Giay district, a
densely populated district of Vietnam's capital that is home to several
universities, after a fire broke out around 12:30 am (1730 GMT Thursday).

Rescuers forced their way inside, breaking the lock of an external gate and
smashing a window to rescue seven people trapped inside.

Neighbours reported hearing explosions "like firecrackers" and screams from
people inside and those living close by.

"The fire grew strongly, destroying many motorbikes, electric bicycles, and
bicycles in the yard area," Hanoi police said in a statement.

"By 1:26 am, the fire was completely extinguished. Rescue forces discovered
14 people dead."

Three survivors are receiving emergency treatment in hospital.

The building's corrugated metal roof caved in as the blaze reduced the
complex to a charred shell open to the sky, strewn with blackened belongings
and bike parts.

It was not clear how many people were inside at the time the fire broke out.

The building comprised two interconnected blocks, one with two-storey and the
other with three, situated down a two-metre-wide alley, with 12 rooms for

The courtyard was reportedly used for selling and fixing electric bicycles.

A neighbour, who declined to give her name, told AFP she heard an "explosion
like firecrackers".

"I thought there was a fight, or something hitting the window. I ran down and
saw the fire.

"Many of the neighbours had run out of the alley, crossing through other
neighbours' houses. We were so, so scared."

She said the building's landlord rescued his daughter-in-law and a grandchild
from the flames.

- Explosions, screams -

Another neighbour, Ngo Thi Thuy, said she saw bright flames rising up through
the cracks of the building's corrugated metal roof.

"Fire particles kept flying, the smoke was so thick that it was impossible to
see anything," Thuy, 40, told state news site VNExpress.

"There was the sound of explosions and some screams. The screams were coming
from inside the burning house and surrounding houses."

Along with her other neighbours, she poured buckets of water onto the roof --
but said the smoke only rise higher.

Authorities are still investigating the cause of the fire, the latest deadly
blaze to hit the communist country.

In Vietnam's deadliest fire in two decades, 56 people died -- three of them
children -- in a Hanoi apartment block blaze last September.

The country has experienced several other deadly fires in recent years, often
at entertainment venues.

A year ago, a karaoke bar blaze near commercial hub Ho Chi Minh City killed
32 people and injured 17. The owner was later arrested on charges related to
breaching fire prevention regulations.

In the aftermath, the prime minister ordered an inspection of all high-risk

Fire safety equipment and instructions have been installed in many streets
and buildings across the city.

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