|The Carina Plaza apartment complex in District 8 after a fire on March 23 which killed 13 and injured 47. -- VNS. Photo Gia Lộc|
HCM CITY – “When will we be able to return to our apartment?”
That’s the question many of the residents of Carina Plaza apartment complex in HCM City’s District 8 are asking again and again, following the devastating fire on March 23 that killed 13 people and injured 47.
A resident of the complex’s block C, Hưng (family name withheld) and his family are temporarily living with his parents at their house in District 5 while waiting for the damage to be repaired..
“I have three young children. I want my family to be safe,” Hưng said.
After the fire, the district People’s Committee set up a team which, in concert with the complex’s investor, is in charge of helping affected residents. A hotline was also established for local residents.
All 736 households (and 2,944 people) at the complex, for instance, were moved to safer areas because of the repair needed after the fire occurred in the basement of block A.
Of these, 70 people have been renting apartments in City Gate Towers opposite the complex since March 23.
Many of the remaining residents have rented houses in other areas in the city or moved to their relative’s houses for temporary living until the repairs are completed. However, the time for completion is still indefinite.
Each household receives VNĐ300,000 (US$13) for rent each day. Although district authorities and the investor discouraged them from staying, several households are still living in blocks B and C, which were not affected by the fire in the complex’s basement and parking garage.
After the fire, electricity and water services were cut off because of repairs. At night, the complex is dark. However, residents living there, like the parents of Phạm Nguyễn Thanh Chung in block C, have bought rechargeable lights.
When the energy runs out, his parents send the lights to be recharged to Chung who lives near the apartment complex.
Every morning, he visits the complex to get water from two containers.
“My parents do not want to stay at my house, although I have tried to persuade them,” Chung said.
On April 28, the complex’s management board issued an announcement calling for residents still living in blocks B and C not to continue because of lack of safety and everyday conveniences.
Following the Ministry of Construction’s inspection, a team from the Institute of Science and Technology examined the scene of the fire on April 6.
On April 2, the city People’s Committee told the Department of Construction and relevant agencies to resolve the investor’s requests for repairs.
The department is now trying to carry out the appropriate repair procedures.
Lê Quỳnh Đài, vice chairman of the District 8 People’s Committee, said the committee would urge agencies to speed up inspection of the complex’s structure affected by the fire.
“The committee is also giving guidance to the investor to complete necessary procedures for repair,” Đài said.
A new standard fire prevention system will be replaced as soon as possible to ensure safety for residents when they return, he added.
At a press briefing held on March 29, Võ Văn Hoan, chief of the committee’s secretariat, said that actions to help residents return to their apartments were time-consuming but necessary.
“Residents there should arrange accommodation for a longer time,” Hoan said.
He also instructed the Department of Health to provide psychological assistance for residents and their children.
After the fire, the department was required to spray chemicals to decontaminate the building. – VNS