Death toll jumps to 23 in Vietnam karaoke bar fire

Death toll jumps to 23 in Vietnam karaoke bar fire

Cause of fire under investigation

This picture taken on Tuesday and released on Wednesday by the Vietnam News Agency shows firefighters at the scene of a deadly fire that engulfed a karaoke bar in Binh Duong province, north of Ho Chi Minh City.  (Photo: AFP)
This picture taken on Tuesday and released on Wednesday by the Vietnam News Agency shows firefighters at the scene of a deadly fire that engulfed a karaoke bar in Binh Duong province, north of Ho Chi Minh City. (Photo: AFP)

HANOI: The death toll from a fire at a karaoke bar in southern Vietnam has risen to 23, a local official said Wednesday.

"We are still searching for more victims but the death toll so far is 23, and 11 people injured," Mai Hung Dung, a top official with the ruling communist party in Binh Duong province, told AFP.

Earlier on Wednesday, state media reported that at least 12 people died and 40 others were injured in the fire. 

The fire broke out at the bar in Binh Duong province on Tuesday night, according to the official Vietnam News Agency

The blaze engulfed the second and third floors of the building, trapping customers and staff members as dense smoke filled the staircase and blocked the emergency exit, state media reported.

Many crowded onto a balcony to escape the flames, which grew quickly as they caught the wooden interior, and others were forced to jump from the building, the reports added.

Photos showed plumes of smoke billowing out of the bar -- located in a crowded residential neighbourhood in Thuan An city, north of commercial hub Ho Chi Minh City -- as firefighters on cranes tried to extinguish the fire.

"Rescue teams are still looking for victims at the scene. The cause of the fire has not been determined and is being investigated," Nguyen Thanh Tam, a local official, told AFP of the Tuesday night blaze.

Witness Nguyen Sang, who lives near the karaoke bar, told the VnExpress news site that when fire trucks arrived at the scene, a receptionist said there were 40 people stuck inside.

"Many people ran outside through the main entrance, but many others could not stand the heat and they jumped down, breaking their hands and legs," Sang said.

Rescue workers searched through the night for anyone trapped in the 30-room bar, according to state media.

Local police said the karaoke facility's fire prevention regulations had been checked prior to the blaze, it added.

The fire was Vietnam's deadliest since 2018, when 13 people died in a blaze in an apartment complex in Ho Chi Minh City.

In 2016, a blaze in a karaoke bar in the capital Hanoi left 13 people dead, prompting a country-wide assessment of fire prevention measures at bars and clubs.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh on Wednesday ordered a further inspection of high-risk venues, especially karaoke bars.

Last month, three firefighters died after trying to extinguish a fire at another karaoke bar in Hanoi.


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