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Hope runs out as karaoke fire victims identified

By Staff reporters   September 7, 2022 | 11:35 pm PT
Seeing the ring on the charred body, Lan broke down in front of the hospital's morgue after recognizing it as her brother's.

Many people went from denial to being heartbroken as they came to a hospital Wednesday looking for their loved ones following a deadly karaoke parlor fire in the southern Binh Duong Province.

Lan tried her best to calm his brother's wife and her mother on Wednesday night, the day the family learned her brother's fate. The 30-year-old could not hold back her tears as she stood in front of Thuan An Hospital, just seven kilometers from the karaoke parlor where a fire claimed the lives of 32 people just a day prior.

Lan's brother, 38-year-old Vuong, on Tuesday night said he was going with his friends to a party, but come midnight, no one could reach him.

Vuongs wife (L) cries, supported by a relative, as her husbands body was identified at the Thuan An Hospital in Binh Duong, following a karaoke parlor fire, September 7, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Dinh Van

Vuong's wife (L) cries, supported by a relative, as her husband's body was identified at the Thuan An Hospital in Binh Duong, following a karaoke parlor fire, September 7, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Dinh Van

The police told Lan on Wednesday morning her brother's car was found parked in front of the burning karaoke parlor. She and her sister-in-law subsequently rushed to An Phu Hospital just 500 meters away from the site to look for him, but to no avail.

They continued their search at Binh Duong and Thuan An hospitals until the afternoon, when police sent them the picture of a gold ring, along with a copy of her brother ID.

"At the time, I still hoped they got the wrong person," Lan said.

By 6 p.m., all hope was lost as Lan recognized her brother through the charred layers of clothes. She said Vuong had just gotten married last year and had an 8-month-old child at home, and that the couple was running a successful rubber and hat company.

Along with Lan's family, hundreds of other people have also been waiting at the morgue for half a day to see if their loved ones were among the bodies.

Nguyen Van Dung was sitting by himself as he waited to bring the body of his 42-year-old brother back to their hometown in Thanh Hoa in north central Vietnam. Just the afternoon before, his brother, along with some cousins and friends, had visited the karaoke before losing contact with their families.

When he learned of the fire, Dung tried to reach the site but was met with barricades. By noon, police told him that seven people in room 301 had died, including his brother.

His brother's identity was confirmed after Dung sent police a copy of his ID.

"He leaves behind his wife and two children," he said.

Dung shows a photo of his brothers personal ID for identification purposes. Photo by VnExpress/Dinh Van

Nguyen Van Dung displays a photo of the ID of his brother, who died in a karaoke parlor fire in Binh Duong on the night of September 6, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Dinh Van

Besides those at the hospital morgue, there were many others waiting for news of their loved ones at the scene of the fire.

Learning her brother, 37-year-old Xuan Truong, had visited the karaoke with his colleagues, Ha traveled to Binh Duong in the early morning to collect more info.

"I was informed that my brother's pickup truck was parked in front of the karaoke. I can now only hope he is safe," said Ha.

Hung, 25, picks up his phone every few minutes to look for news about his best friend. Last night, when he heard a fire had occurred at the karaoke where 22-year-old Na was working, he tried to contact her but failed. Hung and a group of friends later drove 30 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City to Binh Duong to search for their friend.

When they heard all the victims had been transferred to hospital, Hung's group spread out to search for Na, but without any luck.

To their sorrow, her body was later identified through a flower tattoo near her shoulder.

Among the 32 victims of the fire, 17 were men and 15 women, authorities said. A representative of Binh Duong police stated most of the victims had been identified by their loved ones, while some charred bodies remain to be claimed.

A fire broke out at the An Phu karaoke parlor on Tran Quang Dieu Street at around 9 p.m. Tuesday night. There were around 60 people inside at the time, including 30 customers.

Karaoke staff were not able to contain the fire as it caught the soundproof foam mattresses and wooden interiors. Many people were forced to rush to the balcony. Four people were injured after jumping seven to eight meters from the second floor.

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