Apartment blaze leaves 14 dead, three injured

Fatal blaze: Officials visiting the fire site in Hanoi. — AP

A FIRE ripped through an apartment complex in central Hanoi, killing 14 people and injuring three others, police said.

Smoke and toxic gases billowed out of the building in Cau Giay district, a densely populated district of Vietnam’s capital that is home to several universities, after a fire broke out around 12.30am local time yesterday.

Rescuers forced their way inside, breaking the lock of an external gate and smashing a window to rescue seven people trapped inside.

Neighbours reported hearing explosions “like firecrackers” and screams from people inside and those living close by.

“The fire grew strongly, destroying many motorbikes, electric bicycles, and bicycles in the yard area,” Hanoi police said in a statement.

“By 1.26am, the fire was completely extinguished. Rescue forces discovered 14 people dead.”

Three survivors were receiving emergency treatment in hospital.

The building’s corrugated metal roof caved in as the blaze reduced the complex to a charred shell open to the sky, strewn with blackened belongings and bike parts.

Twenty-four people were officially registered as living in the complex.

The building comprised two interconnected blocks, one with two storeys and the other with three, situated down a 2m-wide alley, with 12 rooms for rent.

The courtyard was reportedly used for selling and fixing electric bicycles.

A neighbour, who declined to give her name, said she heard an “explosion like firecrackers”.

“I thought there was a fight, or something hitting the window. I ran down and saw the fire. — AFP

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