Medical personnel move the body of a victim of an explosion at a fireworks factory in a military compound in Vietnam’s northern Phu Tho province yesterday.
HANOI: At least 21 people have died and scores more have been injured in an explosion at a fireworks factory in a military complex in northern Vietnam, an army official said yesterday.
Plumes of black smoke billowed from the Z121 military facility, around 120 kilometres north of Hanoi, as fireworks exploded uncontrollably for several hours, witnesses said.
“Twenty-one people are dead and 98 others are injured — most of them have sustained burns,” a military rescue official said by phone, requesting anonymity and raising an earlier toll of seven dead.
Local hospitals received many of the victims, some with horrific burns. The most critical cases were moved to a specialist burns centre on the outskirts of Hanoi.
“I couldn’t recognise my daughter, she was burned from her face to the soles of her feet,” one woman told state media. “She was pregnant, she couldn’t escape the explosion quick enough.”
Images posted on Vietnamese blogs showed charred frames of motorcycles, and nearby houses with roofs ripped off and windows blown in by the force of the explosions.
Some 2,000 local residents were also evacuated.
“The fire has now been brought under control,” a police official in Phu Tho province said, adding that an investigation into the cause of the accident had been opened.
“The first blast was at 7:55am — and then there were continuous explosions for some hours,” Phi Xuan Trung, chairman of the local Khai Xuan commune, told the VNExpress news site.
“There was a strong smell of gunpowder, the ground was shaking many kilometres away,” he added.