High-rise apartment fire in Vietnam kills 13

Some residents trapped in the burning building in Ho Chi Minh City tried to escape by tying sheets together and fashioning a rope. An official said many of the victims died of suffocation as they tried to flee the fire by running to the higher floors
Some residents trapped in the burning building in Ho Chi Minh City tried to escape by tying sheets together and fashioning a rope. An official said many of the victims died of suffocation as they tried to flee the fire by running to the higher floors.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

HANOI • Thirteen people were killed and several injured when a fire broke out at an apartment complex in Vietnam's southern commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City early yesterday.

The fire in the high-rise Carina Plaza started around midnight on the lower floors of the building and soon spread to the upper floors.

An official told Agence France-Presse that many of the victims died of suffocation as they tried to flee the fire by running to the higher floors. "Thirteen people were pulled out dead and more than a dozen others injured. They died from suffocation," said the official from the neighbourhood's government office.

She added that officials had not yet determined the cause of the fire.

Photos on social media show residents being rescued from balconies and plumes of black smoke rising from the tall building.

The fire was put out by dawn, though the area was shrouded in thick smoke for several hours, images on state-run media show.

Ms Le Thi Vang told state-run VNExpress that she and her family were jolted awake by a loud blast in their second-floor apartment, which quickly filled with smoke.

"We ran out and smoke was everywhere. We did not know where to run, so we had to jump down," Ms Vang, 45, told the news site.

According to reports, the blaze may have started in the underground parking garage that connected adjacent blocks of the apartment complex.

The complex includes several buildings between 15 and 22 storeys high and was built six years ago.

This is Vietnam's deadliest fire since 2016 when a blaze in a karaoke bar in Hanoi left 13 people dead, mostly government workers who died in the soundproof chambers.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 24, 2018, with the headline 'High-rise apartment fire in Vietnam kills 13'. Print Edition | Subscribe