At least 32 killed in Vietnam karaoke parlour fire

Customers and female staff members jumped from the second and third floors to escape the flames, local media have reported.

Firefighters at the scene of a deadly fire that engulfed a karaoke bar north of Ho Chi Minh City on September 6, 2022 [Vietnam News Agency/AFP]
Firefighters at the scene of a deadly blaze that engulfed a karaoke bar north of Ho Chi Minh City on September 6, 2022 [Vietnam News Agency/AFP]

At least 32 people have been killed in a fire at a packed karaoke bar in southern Vietnam that is thought to have been started by an electrical short circuit.

The blaze ripped through the second and third floors of the three-storey karaoke parlour on Tuesday night in Thuan An city, located approximately 25 kilometres (some 15 miles) north of the country’s commercial capital Ho Chi Minh City, according to Viet Nam News.

The death toll rose to at least 32 on Thursday, the Vietnam News Agency said, with some parts of the building still inaccessible because of the heat.

Customers and members of the mostly female staff jumped from the second and third floors to escape the flames, which spread rapidly due to foam sound-proofing material and wooden interior features, according to local media. Some of those who were taken to hospital suffered from smoke inhalation and broken bones.

President Nguyen Xuan Phuc extended his condolences to families of the victims and asked government officials to support them, and quickly find the cause of the blaze. Preliminary findings suggest it began with an electrical short circuit and started on the second or third floor.

“The cause of the fire has not been determined and is being investigated,” Nguyen Thanh Tam, a top official with the ruling communist party in Thuan An, said on Wednesday.

Photos showed plumes of smoke billowing out of the bar – located in a crowded residential neighbourhood – as firefighters on cranes tried to extinguish the fire.

Many of those rescued were unconscious after suffering from asphyxiation due to choking smoke from the blaze that was brought under control by firefighters within an hour of starting.

“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,” witness Nguyen Sang, who lives near the karaoke bar, told the VnExpress news site.

Rescue workers searched through the night for anyone trapped in the 30-room karaoke lounge, according to state media.

Victims of the karaoke parlour fire are treated in a hospital in Thuan An city, southern Vietnam [Duong Trei Tuong/VNA via AP]

Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh on Wednesday ordered the Ministry of Public Security and provincial authorities to investigate the cause of the fire.

The fire was Vietnam’s deadliest since 2018, when 13 people died 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, prompting a country-wide assessment of fire prevention measures at bars and clubs.

Three firefighters were killed in a fire at another karaoke bar in Hanoi last month.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies