Fire hazards lurk in heart of Saigon's apartment blocks

By Thanh Nguyen   March 29, 2018 | 11:02 am GMT+7

Broken fire equipment, crowded hallways and sealed emergency exits have been found in the wake of the Carina Plaza tragedy.

Days after a fire at Ho Chi Minh City's Carina Plaza killed 13 people and injured more than 50 others, authorities have been conducting fire safety inspections at several apartment buildings, and finding multiple violations.

Local authorities remove bundles of electric wires in an apartment on Nguyen Thi Nghia Str. in HCMCs District 1 on Wednesday.

Members of District 1's inspection team remove bundles of electric wires from a parking lot at an apartment building on Nguyen Thi Nghia Street in HCMC's District 1 on Wednesday.

Doan Ngoc Hai, Vice Chairman of the HCMC Peoples Committee, discovers flammable objects on the apartments ground floor, demands their removal.

Doan Ngoc Hai, vice chairman of the district, leads the inspection as he discovers flammable objects in the building's ground floor.

People just put their belongings all over the corridors and nobody says anything. If there were a fire, there would be nowhere to run, said Tran Lam, 20-year resident of the apartment.

"People just leave their belongings all over the corridors and nobody says anything. If there were a fire, there would be nowhere to run," said Tran Lam, a 20-year resident.

District 1s authorities remove wooden and plastic junks under the stairs in an apartment on Ly Tu Trong Str.

Wood and plastic junk is removed from the stairs at an apartment building on Ly Tu Trong Street, District 1.

District 1s authorities confisticate objects blocking emergency exits in an art gallery in the Ly Tu Trong apartment.

Paintings of an art gallery are removed from emergency exits in the Ly Tu Trong building.

A child plays with an empty fire equipment box in an apartment on Nguyen Trai Str.This apartments fire alarm was not functional when District 1s authorities had an inspection on Tuesday afternoon.

A boy plays with an empty fire equipment box at an apartment building on Nguyen Trai Street, District 1. The building's fire alarms did not work during an inspection on Tuesday afternoon.

Fire equipment box turns literal trash can in Nguyen Trai apartment.All the fire equipment in this apartment are heavily damaged, but no one pays to repair them. Even the parking basement is fully occupied. We have filed several complaints to local authorities, but so far theres no replies, said 51-year-old Tran Thi Nga, a resident.

A fire equipment box has been turned into a trash can at the Nguyen Trai building. "All the fire equipment is heavily damaged, but no one pays to repair them. Even the parking basement is fully occupied. We have filed several complaints to local authorities, but so far there've been no replies," said 51-year-old resident Tran Thi Nga.

Items littered on an apartments 9th floor on Nguyen Hue Str.The apartments management does nothing about this. They put up signs but never told anyone to move these objects away, said a resident.

Items littered across the 9th floor of a building on Nguyen Hue Street. "The building's managers do nothing about this. They put up signs but never tell anyone to move these objects away," said a resident.

On that same apartments 8th floor, a fire equipment box is damaged and blocked out of sight by peoples belongings.

On the 8th floor, a fire equipment box is damaged and blocked by people's belongings.

40 damaged and expired fire extinguishers were found in an apartment on Bui Vien Str.After that infamous fire in Carina Plaza, of course we were all afraid. But many people just dont heed the warnings and replace their expired fire extinguishers. Ive had to persuade them for days, said a member of the Bui Vien apartments management.

40 damaged and expired fire extinguishers are collected from an apartment building on Bui Vien Street, District 1. "After that infamous fire at Carina Plaza, of course we are all afraid. But many people just don't heed the warnings and replace their expired fire extinguishers. I've been trying to persuade them for days," said a member of the building's management board.

The deadly blaze at Carina Plaza in HCMC's District 8, half an hour from the central District 1, ignited at around 1.15 a.m. last Friday, just seven hours after residents held a meeting with the building's managers about fire risks, saying that guards in the parking lots often smoked, and that the elevator panels were overheating.

A petition from nearly 500 Carina residents was sent to Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Sunday regarding poor fire safety in the building and the fact that its investor has failed to step up to take responsibility.

The fire is one of the deadliest in the city’s history, only surpassed by a blaze that killed 60 people at the six-story International Trade Center in October 2002.

 
 
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