Scrap-dealer blowtorches a bomb-like object, kills four people in Hanoi massive explosion

By , March 19, 2016 | 05:16 pm PT
Scrap-dealer blowtorches a bomb-like object, kills four people in Hanoi massive explosion
A massive blast ripped Hanoi outskirts yesterday : By Luc Tuan
Four people were killed and at least seven seriously injured after an explosion ripped through a residential area on the outskirts of Hanoi on Saturday.

The massive blast rocked the sparsely populated area Van Phu, in Ha Dong district around three on Saturday afternoon.

The blast killed the scrap dealer, Pham Van Cuong, and four passer-by, including a mother and her 8 year old child.

The powerful explosion sent flames through the air and left a four square meter crater in the ground with a concrete sewer pipe and underground cables exposed about two meters from the surface.

In a report, the police believed that when the 42 year old male victim tried to take apart a rusty iron cylinder, about 45cm in diameter, 80cm long and weighed 100kg on the sidewalk, “the heat of the blowtorch triggered [the cylinder object] to go off, causing extremely serious consequences”.

The scrap dealer was seen trying to cut into an object which looked like “an oxygen tank or a compressed gas cylinder” in the open space at the residence when the explosion occurred, said witnesses to the accident.

“Four or five people on motorcycles, who were passing by at the time of the explosion, were knocked down on the road by the force of the explosion. I saw three of them lying unconscious and bleeding profusely. It was most heartbreaking to see a mother and her daughter dead trapping under their motorbike,” said an eyewitness named Tran Tra My.

It also knocked down walls, shattered windows and blew doors off buildings in a 500 meter radius of the blast site. A row of 36 terraced houses in the area was reported to have been damaged.

Many cars and motorcycles near the site were severely burnt.


The blast ripped a 2-metre hole in Hanoi

Hanoi police has yet to identify the explosive device. However, a man trying to cut a metal scrap for recycling with a blowtorch was to blame for the incident, Hanoi police stated.  

The findings, supported by forensic tests of post-blast explosive residues, show that the explosive at the scene was the same type of explosive materials used in bombs, according to the Ministry of Public Security’s forensic science unit.

The police said metal pellets found around the blast site were like shrapnel in bombs.

The impact was so severe that the parts of the scrap dealer’s body were blown off and some splinters were found in neighboring houses.

“My whole family was taking a nap, all of sudden I heard an extremely loud rumble, our front window was smashed. At first, I thought, it was because of some repair work going on in the house next door. But when I saw out the window, I could see a fire from the scrap metal shop opposite. I heard women screaming and yelling and saw a dead body in front of my house,” said Duc, a witness living across the street.

“The force of the explosion was so powerful. It was like a bomb. Body parts were widely scattered, they were found on the second floor, the top floor of our house and even in the backyard,” Duc’s wife added.

Surveillance footage showed a truck passing by the scene at the time of the explosion. The blast shattered the windshield and caused the driver to lose control of his vehicle and crash into a residential house nearby. The driver was perished inside the cabin of the truck, while his assistant sitting beside him suffered critical injuries. The fire crew had to cut the victims from the wreckage.

Hundreds of firefighters and sappers were deployed to bring the fire under control and sift through the debris for dead body parts.

Both top officials of the city including Secretary of the Party Committee Hoang Trung Hai and Chairman Nguyen Duc Chung visited the scene and consoled the victims. The city government said it would support the families of each dead victim VND20 million ($900), give each seriously injured person VND10 million and each slightly injured VND5 million. And temporary housing will be arranged for heavily affected families.

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