A fire that ripped through a karaoke bar killed 13 people and injured two police officers in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi, an official said on Wednesday. The blaze erupted on Tuesday afternoon in the multi-storey building in commercial Cau Giay district and quickly spread to other floors and adjacent buildings, according to local official The Chung. Photos showed plumes of smoke billowing out of the building as firefighters in cranes doused the flames, with cars and motorbikes outside also burning.
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“Hundreds of firemen and police officers were mobilised to extinguish the fire,” Chung told AFP. He added that two police officers were being treated after they were injured trying to put out the blaze. On Wednesday crowds looked on as officials inspected the blackened building and its gutted entrance, with charred motorbikes and other wreckage spilling out onto the sidewalk.
“I was carrying my stuff when I saw the fire suddenly start,” said Do Thi Kha, 77, a local food vendor in the area. “The fire spread over to two or three next-door buildings before I saw fire trucks come in. It was terrible. I was terrified. They did not have enough water to extinguish the fire,” she told AFP.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has ordered police to immediately investigate the cause of the fire and “seriously punish wrongdoing”, according to the government’s official website. He also asked local authorities to closely inspect karaoke bars and restaurants for fire safety protocols and equipment, the statement added.
Blazes are common at houses, bars and restaurants in communist Vietnam where fire prevention and firefighting is limited. In May 2014, five people burned to death in a fire at a karaoke bar in Hanoi after an electrical fault triggered a massive blaze. Another karaoke venue in the city went up in flames in September this year, but no casualties were reported.