|Firefighters extinguish flames. — VNA/VNS Photo Thành Chung|
HCM CITY — Victims of a deadly fire on Friday early morning at a HCM City’s apartment building died from suffocation, said Senior Lieutenant Colonel Nguyễn Thanh Hưởng, deputy director of the city’s Department of Firefighting Police.
Hưởng said the death toll was 13 as of 8am on Friday. Twenty-eight others were injured.
Identities of only five victims have been confirmed so far, including Lưu Lê Bích Phượng, Party secretary and Chairwoman of People’s Committee of District 1’s Nguyễn Thái Bình Ward.
There are three unidentified children among the dead, reported Tuổi Trẻ (Youth) newspaper.
The fire started at a 20,000sq.m basement parking between blocks A and B of the Plaza. Thirteen cars and 150 motorbikes were burned.
Hưởng said the fire-preventing door connecting the basement and the upper floor was open when the fire started and that many doors on the upper floors were also not closed, which facilitated the smoke to rise upstairs.
According to the residents of the Plaza, the fire alarm system did not work.
Hưởng said it was difficult at the moment to investigate the basement as it was covered with smoke and heat, adding that investigators will also check the fire alarm system of the building.
Residents of the apartment have been shifted to block C of Carina Plaza and the opposite City Gate building for safety.
The city’s leaders have asked authorised forces to ban residents from entering the scene to avoid possible collapse of concrete pieces.
The injured are being treated at Nguyễn Tri Phương, Paediatrics No 1 and Chợ Rẫy hospitals. Most of them have their eyes and respiratory system damaged.
Among the eight children being treated at Paediatrics No 1 Hospital, the youngest is only three months old.
“It was too dangerous to allow suffocating residents to run out of the building or jump outside from the top floors,” said HCM City’s Party Committee Secretary Nguyễn Thiện Nhân.
He has ordered a review of firefighting practices at apartment buildings as well as more frequent drills to instruct residents on how to escape in case of a fire.
He said the cause of the fire must be investigated soon and the guilty must be heavily fined.
At some 1.30am, the apartment building of Carina Plaza residential area suddenly burst into flames.
Hundreds of people were trapped inside, screaming for help. While some of the residents fled to the top floors, some tried to escape by jumping outside.
Firemen were immediately sent to the location, and they succeeded in putting out the fire by 4.00am.
At 12am the same day, the fire broke out again at the block B’s basement. The flames were extinguished 15 minutes later.
Carina Plaza, invested by Hùng Thanh Company, is located on Võ Văn Kiệt Street of District 8 and was let out for use some six years ago. It includes three blocks, with 15-21 floors each. The plaza is occupied by 736 households. — VNS
|Injured residents being treated at Nguyễn Tri Phương Hospital. — VNA/VNS Photo Đinh Hằng|