A fire at a packed karaoke bar in southern Vietnam has killed at least 13 people and left another 40 people hospitalised, including 11 with serious injuries, local media reported.
The blaze ripped through the second and third floors of the three-story 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, state-run Viet Nam News reported on Wednesday.
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, the news agency reported.
“Rescue teams are still looking for victims at the scene. The cause of the fire has not been determined and is being investigated,” said Nguyen Thanh Tam, a top official with the ruling communist party in Thuan An.
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 parlour, according to state media.
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. (AlJazeera)