A fire broke out at a nine-story apartment tower in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Tuesday night, resulting in more than 50 casualties, the country’s state-run news media said.
The Hanoi police announced the figure, which includes dead and injured, hours after the blaze in the capital’s Thanh Xuan district, the Dan Tri newspaper reported on Wednesday morning. The police said more than 70 others had been rescued.
The exact death toll was not immediately clear, but Dan Tri reported that many of the 54 people who had been hospitalized after the fire had died. Officials said the cause of the blaze was under investigation.
The building has 45 households, and many residents were there when the fire started around 11:30 p.m., the official Vietnam News Agency reported. The agency said the fire was hard to fight because the tower lies in a narrow alley, and fire trucks had to park up to about 400 meters, or more than 1,300 feet, away.
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.
This is a developing story.
Mike Ives and Chau Doan