Vietnam karaoke bar fire death toll reaches 23
The initial cause of the blaze is yet to be confirmed.
The death toll of the fire that tore through a karaoke bar in Vietnam has risen to 23, according to an official on Wednesday after reports said the blaze engulfed the second floor of the building on Tuesday night, trapping customers and staff when smoke filled the staircase and blocked them from using emergency exits.
Many escaped onto a balcony to avoid the flames, which spread rapidly onto the wooden interior, while others had to jump from the building.
Photos showed smoke steaming out of the bar, located in a crowded residential neighborhood in Thuan An city, north of commercial hub Ho Chi Minh City in Binh Duong province, as firefighters tried to use cranes to extinguish the fire.
Mai Hung Dung, a top official with the ruling Communist Party in Binh Duong told AFP, "We are still searching for more victims but the death toll so far is 23, and 11 people injured," since authorities previously stated the death toll at 12.
The initial cause of the fire is suspected to be an electrical short circuit, per state media reports, citing Binh Duong authorities. As rescue workers scrambled to search for anyone still trapped in the 30-room bar, police stated that the karaoke facility's fire prevention regulations had been checked prior to the incident.
Witness Nguyen Sang who resides near the bar told the VnExpress news site that when fire trucks arrived, a receptionist said there were 40 people stuck inside, adding, "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."
This is Vietnam's third deadliest fire, as the second in 2018 left 13 people dead 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 as well, initiating a country-wide assessment of fire prevention measures at bars and clubs.
Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh ordered a further probe on Wednesday of high-risk venues, especially targeting karaoke bars, as 3 firefighters died last month after trying to extinguish a fire at another karaoke bar in Hanoi.