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Hundreds evacuated as HCMC chemical workshop fire burns for 4th day

By Dinh Van   July 13, 2022 | 06:47 pm PT
Hundreds evacuated as HCMC chemical workshop fire burns for 4th day
Fumes spread from an ongoing chemical workshop fire in HCMC's Binh Chanh District, July 13, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Dinh Van
Authorities in HCMC evacuated hundreds of families from near a chemical plant that has been burning for four days, killing plants and animals en masse in its vicinity.

The fire began on the night of July 9 at the 1,000-square-meter plant belonging to a food company on Tran Dai Nghia Street in Binh Chanh District, and was yet to be put out as of Wednesday noon.

A spokesperson for the Binh Chanh District police said the plant has chlorine powder and limestone, and so water could not be used directly to extinguish the fire but could only be pumped gradually.

The fumes from the fire, containing chlorine, spread across a 300 m radius, forcing the evacuation.

A man packs his things to leave his rent room near a chemical workshop that is still burning in Binh Chanh District, July 13, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Dinh Van

A man packs his things to leave his rent room near a chemical workshop that is still burning in Binh Chanh District, July 13, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Dinh Van

Nguyen Dung, 37, said his and around 20 other families had to stay in hotels because they "could not stand" the fumes any more. Some of them had got rashes, breathing difficulty, chest pain, and dizziness, and one of his relatives, who lived close to the plant, had to be admitted to Cho Ray Hospital after inhaling a lot of the toxic fumes, he said.

Around the plant, trees and paddy fields are dying, and puddles are covered in oil. Pet animals like dogs and cats and chickens have died in large numbers.

Ducks are found dead near a chemical workshop fire in Binh Chanh District, July 13, 2022. Photo by Tran Van

Ducks are found dead near a chemical workshop fire in Binh Chanh District, July 13, 2022. Photo by Tran Van

Pham Thi Suong, 73, said the fire continues to burn during the day, and keeps going out in the evenings.

"I am very tired and my neck has been itching these past few days due to inhaling the fumes. Even now authorities have not come here to put out the flames once and for all."

She said the chemical plant has been operating for around a year.

Authorities said personnel have been stationed at the site to keep people safe.

The plant owner has also helped relocate several families.

Authorities are now drawing up the list of affected families to plan compensation.

 
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