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Hanoi apartment fire tragedy sees multiple fatalities

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56 people, including children, lost their lives in a devastating apartment block fire in Vietnam’s capital city, Hanoi.

This tragic incident occurred during nighttime, engulfing the nine-storey building, which housed around 150 residents, in which a further 37 people were injured.

The blaze, as reported by BBC and Reuters, was eventually contained but not before it wreaked havoc and resulted in substantial casualties.

Harrowing scenes and rescue operations in Hanoi

Local residents and witnesses recounted the horror that unfolded on that fateful night.

Many described a loud explosion-like sound around 23:00 local time, following which black smoke rapidly filled the building.

This was a challenging rescue operation, with some residents describing drastic measures to escape, such as breaking metal railings to create a makeshift bridge to neighbouring structures.

One particularly distressing account came from a bystander who witnessed a young boy being thrown from a high floor in an attempt to save him from the blaze.

It remains uncertain if he survived, even though a mattress was utilised in an effort to catch him.

The area’s narrow alleys posed significant challenges for the rescue operations.

As a result, even with 15 fire engines dispatched to the site, they struggled to get close to the burning building.

A city grappling with rapid growth and safety challenges

Hanoi has witnessed exponential growth over the past two decades, with its population quadrupling to 5.25 million.

However, the swift urban expansion brings with it concerns over fire safety, especially in newly-constructed apartment blocks.

There have been indications from city authorities that many of these new buildings do not adhere to adequate fire safety norms.

This incident further highlights the importance of stringent regulations in densely populated areas, a sentiment echoed by Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh.

He emphasised the urgent need for comprehensive fire regulations in smaller apartments and densely inhabited zones.

IFSJ Comment

The fire in Hanoi underscores the critical need for rigorous fire safety measures, especially in rapidly urbanising areas.

With cities experiencing unparalleled growth, the adoption of stringent safety standards becomes paramount.

The Hanoi incident serves as a poignant reminder that urban planning and safety regulations must evolve in tandem to prevent such devastating events in the future.

By addressing these issues head-on, we can aspire to create safer living spaces for everyone.

This article was last updated at 3.30pm 13/9/2023 as the reported number of casualties was revised from initial reports.

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