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Vietnam fire: Residents trapped in deadly Hanoi apartment blaze

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    1 hour ago

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Image source, AFP

At least eight people are known to have died and dozens injured in a huge fire that broke out in a high-rise apartment block in Vietnam’s capital Hanoi.

State media said around 70 people had been rescued from the nine-storey building, with many taken to hospital.

The fire, which broke out during the night, has been extinguished but rescue operations are continuing.

Authorities in fast-growing Hanoi say many newly-built apartments do not meet fire safety regulations.

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The city’s population has quadrupled in the past 20 years.

Residents described hearing a loud bang at around 2300 local time, and then seeing black smoke rising through the building.

One family say they had to escape by smashing the metal railings blocking their window, and putting a ladder across to a neighbouring building.

“I heard a lot of shouts for help. We could not help them much,” Hoa, a woman who lives nearby, told the AFP news agency.

“The apartment is so closed with no escape route, impossible for the victims to get out.”

Fifteen fire engines were sent to assist but could not get close to the burning apartment block because the alley it was in was too narrow.

The blaze highlights the challenges of managing fire safety in the region’s fast-growing and poorly regulated cities.

Almost exactly a year ago 33 people died in a fire at a karaoke club in southern Vietnam where windows were bricked up, blocking escape.

There have been many similar tragedies in other South East Asian countries like Thailand, where regulations were found afterwards either to be inadequate, or in many cases simply not enforced.

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