|Rescuers dig through the debris to find buried victims in the collapse of a century-old mansion at 107 Tran Hung Dao Street, Hoan Kiem District, Ha Noi yesterday. — VNA/VNS Photo Nhat Anh
HA NOI (VNS) — Two people died and five were injured after a 110-year-old mansion in central Ha Noi collapsed yesterday noon.
Tran Thi Nga, 36, was pulled out from the debris of the mansion at 107 Tran Hung Dao Street, built during the French colonial time, after being trapped for nearly five hours. She died later due to critical injuries.
The other fatality was Le Thi Huong, 46, a vegetable vendor. Another five people were injured and are being treated at Viet Duc hospital.
The middle portion of the mansion suddenly gave way at around 12:40pm yesterday, toppling large pieces of cement wall and bricks onto adjacent houses and trapped people beneath.
In Ha Noi, it is common for mansions built during the French colonial era to be occupied by several families at once.
Immediately after the incident, roads around the site like Phan Boi Chau and Yet Kieu streets were blocked off to serve search and rescue efforts.
Six rescue trucks, five fire trucks, three ambulances and 110 police and soldiers were deployed to the place to rescue the trapped victims, Lieutenant Colonel To Manh Thang, head of Ha Noi's Department of Fire Prevention and Fighting, told Viet Nam News.
"The rescuers must be very careful since the entire building is very old and could continue to crumble, which could put nearby residents in danger," said Thang.
|Scene of a collapsed French styled mansion killed two and injured five others yesterday at 107 Tran Hung Dao Street, Hoan Kiem District, Ha Noi. — VNS Photo Doan Tung
A resident in alley 107, known only as Thang, told Viet Nam News that he heard a big noise and saw people running out of the alley covered in dust.
He quickly took his family to a relative's house nearby. When he returned, the area was already blocked off.
"My relatives and friends keep calling me and ask if I'm okay," Thang said. "It is such a scary experience".
Time and rain
State agency Railway Projects Management Board in Region I (RPMB), who directly managed and used the mansion, reported that the building had shown warning signs of collapse as officers working in the mansion noticed cracks running on the walls at 12:35 noon yesterday.
The officers were immediately ordered to evacuate out of the building, just barely in time before the mansion crashed down ten minutes later.
The RPMB said that the preliminary causes of the collapse were the degraded status of the building after a long time of usage and the impact of the continuous heavy rain since Sunday night.
The downpour was said to have dampened the walls, reducing the building's load bearing capacity.
Colonel Nguyen Van Quyen of the Ha Noi Police said that archives showed the 1,164 sq metres wide mansion was built 110 years ago, circa 1905, and had been renovated and repaired several times in the 90s.
The collapsed part, stretching about 300 sq metres, was the middle of the three portions of the whole mansion. That portion was marked as seriously downgraded by inspectors of the Ministry of Construction.
Deputy Minister of Construction Le Quang Hung asked police to block entry to the other two portions of the mansion after the building was structurally changed following the collapse.
The two portions could "collapse anytime soon," said Hung.
Sixteen households living in those portions were also asked by the authorities to evacuate immediately out of their houses.
The Ha Noi Department of Construction said that they have prepared 40 apartments in the Dinh Cong Urban Complex in Hoang Mai District for the 61 affected residents. — VNS