Vietnam's fire death toll rises 30%

By Son Ha   October 13, 2023 | 01:49 am PT
Vietnam's fire death toll rises 30%
A firefighter climbs up an apartment to save people stuck inside the building on fire in Hanoi's Thanh Xuan District, September 12, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Pham Du
More than 1,900 fires across Vietnam killed 144 people from October 2022 to September 2023, up nearly 30% in the over the same period the previous year.

The fires, a 11% increase year-on-year, in cases and caused property damage of VND315 billion (US$12.89 million) and of them, 61 were serious cases that killed 142 people and injured 63 people in total, according to a government report.

Among the cases in the period, 42% happened at individual houses, and the main reason was problems with the electrical equipment systems, and sources of heat.

The government said the local authorities’ abilities and responsibilities in fire prevention and control had been limited.

Due to their lack of responsibilities, many houses had been illegally modified to become mini-apartment buildings, not adequately designed with fire escapes or equipped with fire prevention tools.

On late September 12, a fire engulfed an apartment block in an alley off Khuong Ha Street in Hanoi's Thanh Xuan District, leaving 56 people dead and 37 others injured. Of the victims, 10 were children.

The accident marks the deadliest fire in Vietnam in 21 years.

The owner of the building was originally permitted to build a six-story house but he deliberately turned it into a 10-storey mini apartment building, with four-five apartments on each floor, and had sold it to 45 families.

According to the police, the 10-story block was built in the style of a "tube house," which means it had just one exit at its front while the other three sides were completely closed. It had just one fire escape.

After the deadly fire, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh issued a statement requesting a general review and inspection of fire prevention and fighting in all types of apartment buildings across the country.

The Ministry of Construction has been assigned to supplement fire prevention and fighting standards for mini apartments, and soon amend regulations and standards for building houses.

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