Vietnam: Hanoi Apartment Fire Kills At Least 56

A fire that broke out late Tuesday at a nine-story apartment tower in Hanoi, Vietnam, killed at least 56 people, potentially making it one of the country’s deadliest blazes in well over a decade.

After the fire was extinguished early Wednesday, the state-run Vietnam News Agency reported that another 37 people were injured and that more than 100 others had been rescued, citing the authorities.

The building where the fire broke out had 45 households, and many residents were there when the fire started around 11:30 p.m., the Vietnam News Agency reported. Officials said the cause was under investigation.

The fire broke out two days after President Biden finished a visit to Vietnam, in which he cemented a strategic deal with the country amid shared concerns over China’s mounting ambitions in the region.

The fire in Hanoi’s Thanh Xuan district was hard to fight because the tower sits in a narrow alley, and fire trucks had to park up to about 400 meters, or more than 1,300 feet, away, the state news agency said.

Hanoi is famous for its labyrinthine alleys, many of which snake through neighborhoods where most buildings are French colonial-era structures. The alleys are often big enough for motorcycles but not large trucks.

Last year, an electrical short circuit at a three-story karaoke bar near Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam started a fire that killed 32 people. It was the deadliest fire in the country in a decade and one of several to tear through karaoke bars there in recent years.

Those blazes led to fire inspections and new fire safety regulations, but such reforms are not universally popular. Some in the country’s business community say they are unrealistic and cause construction delays.

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