The death toll from a fire that destroyed a karaoke bar in the south Vietnam State media said 32.
Reports said the fire engulfed the second floor of the building on Tuesday night, trapping customers and staff as thick smoke filled the stairs and closed the emergency exit.
On Wednesday, official media reported that many of them crowded a balcony to escape the fire that quickly spread in the wooden interior, while others had to jump from the building.
Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chin on Wednesday ordered more inspections of high-risk places, especially karaoke bars.
Pictures showed plumes of smoke rising from the bar – located in a crowded residential neighborhood in Thuan An City, north of the Ho Chi Minh City mall – as firefighters on cranes tried to put out the blaze.
Cong An Nhan Dan, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Public Security, said the death toll had risen to 32, with 17 men and 15 women dead.
Mai Hong Dong, a senior official in the ruling Communist Party in Binh Duong province where the tape is located, had earlier put the death toll at 23, with 11 injured. He told AFP that officials were still searching for more victims.
State media reported that eight people were found dead in the toilet.
The initial cause of the fire was said to be a short circuit, according to a report by Binh Dung authorities carried by state media.
Witness Nguyen Sang, who lives near the karaoke bar, told the VnExpress news site that when fire engines arrived at the scene, a receptionist said 40 people were stuck inside.
“A lot of people ran outside through the main entrance, but many others couldn’t stand the heat and jumped on the ground, breaking their hands and feet,” Sang said.
Rescue workers searched through the night for anyone trapped in the 30-room bar, according to state media.
Police told state media that the pub’s fire-prevention regulations had been checked before the fire broke out.
In what was previously the deadliest fire in Vietnam, 13 people were killed in a 2018 fire at an apartment complex in Ho Chi Minh City.
In 2016, a fire at a karaoke facility in the capital Hanoi killed 13 people, prompting a nationwide assessment of fire prevention measures in bars and clubs.
Last month, three firefighters were killed after trying to put out a fire at another karaoke bar in Hanoi.
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