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Fires a threat to Old Quarter

Update: June, 16/2012 - 07:12

HA NOI — Two fires in five days in the city's oldest streets are cause for concern. Relevant authorities are addressing these concerns and searching for better fire prevention methods.

On May 31, a fire injured one person and destroyed two shops on Gia Ngu Street.

Earlier, the two-floor restaurant on Nam Ngu Street burned down due to the cook's carelessness.

Nguyen Trung Kien, deputy chairman of Hang Bo Precinct's People's Committee said the Old Quarter had a high concentration of flammable products such as shoes, clothes, papers, chemicals and plastics.

The small area of streets accommodates a high density of people as well, he said.

The 81ha area of streets in Hoan Kiem District houses more than 66,660 people. The population density reaches 84,000 per sq.km, 42 times higher than the average one of Ha Noi.

Ngo Thanh Cong, a resident of Hang Giay Street, said dozens of people have lived in very small houses for years. They get used to this living arrangement and have never thought that it was dangerous.

He said fire fighting and prevention methods have not been provided for anyone in this area of the city, thus the heightened risks of fires have yet to be acknowledged.

The narrow lanes prevent fire fighters from accessing the scenes to extinguish fires and rescue victims, said he.

Training activities about fire fighting and prevention for local people should be provided so that they could actively minimise the risks of fires and cope with such emergency situations, said he.

Senior lieutenant-colonel Nguyen Van Son of Ha Noi Police's Fire Fighting and Prevention Department said the local authorities have failed to prevent pavement invasions, and regular inspections of lanes and public spaces around shops, restaurants and workshops.

He said all this leads to the impossibility of ensuring fire regulations are obeyed by local people.

Each commune should take responsibility for working out and manoeuvring its own fire fighting plan, said he.

To conserve the old streets, Hoan Kiem District's People's Committee has just submitted a plan of relocating its residents.

Under the plan, to the year of 2020, more than 7,000 households with more than 26,000 people will be moved to Long Bien District. — VNS

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