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D8 Apartment Fire, Saigon's Worst in 15 Years, Kills 13, Injures 28

Last night while most Saigoneers were sound asleep, a fire broke out in a high-rise apartment complex in District 8.

According to preliminary reports by the local fire department, Tuoi Tre shares that after midnight the fire started in the basement, which serves as a parking lot of the residential apartment complex Carina Plaza on Vo Van Kiet Street in District 8. 

The fire quickly engulfed the 1,000-square-meter parking area, burning 150 motorbikes and 13 cars. Although flames didn’t spread to the upper floors, the resulting heat and smoke could be felt as far up as the building’s top floor, according to witnesses.

At the time of writing, it’s estimated that the blaze killed 13 people and injured 28 others, all residents of Carina Plaza. Most of the fatalities were due to asphyxiation.

The Ho Chi Minh City Fire Department received the first distress call about the fire at 1:27am and arrived at the complex at 2am with 34 fire brigades and 205 firefighters. In collaboration with volunteers from nearby neighborhoods, they managed to evacuate some 1,000 people. By around 4am, the fire was extinguished.

Many evacuees told news sources that the fire alarm of the building didn’t go off and neither did the fire sprinkler system. They were only aware of the fire thanks to their neighbors; while some who live on upper floors only knew there was a fire when smoke entered their units.

According to Tuoi Tre, the Carina Plaza fire is the most catastrophic fire-related accident in Saigon in the last 15 years and the second-most severe fire in the last 20 years, after the ITC fire in 2002 that killed 60 and injured 70 others.

Located at 1684 Vo Van Kiet Street, the Carina Plaza has only been in use for six years, housing 736 households.

This story is still developing.

[Top photo via Hanoi TV]

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