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|Over 150 vehicles burned in the Carina Plaza fire|
At 1 AM on March 23, the fire and big explosions started at the basement parking lot of Carina Plaza’s block A and B at 1648 Vo Van Kiet Street, District 8, Ho Chi Minh City, while residents were sleeping and the fire bells failed to go off. Residents were woken by the smell of smoke and the screams of others, but no fire bells. People said that they tried to the small fire extinguishers to little effect.
The fire has killed at least 13 people, injured a hundred, burned 13 cars and 150 motorbikes, and damaged the properties of residents. The conflagration caused the highest number of fatalities in Ho Chi Minh City in the last 16 years, which shows the weakness of fire prevention and management at Carina Plaza’s management board.
Secretary of the Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee Nguyen Thien Nhan asked for a clear explanation why the fire bells were not active that night. “Why did the fire start at the empty basement, and how did it kill 13 people living on higher floors?” Nhan emphasised.
He also ordered a review of the process of handling fire and explosion incidents at Carina Plaza. “How many times do they check and drill every year? What are the responsibilities of the building management board and the apartment developer?” Nguyen Thien Nhan asked, ruminating on the responsibilities of Hung Thanh Co., Ltd. and 577 Investment Corporation.
Chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong also asked: “People said they did not hear the fire alarm. The District 8 Fire Department reported that the fire prevention drills were held twice a year, but why did the fire alarms not go off at the Carina Plaza fire? We cannot trust the lives of people on blankets and clothes tied together to escape.”
He also emphasised the need to overcome the consequences of the fire, ensuring the safety of residents and households of Carina Plaza, and helping them to stabilise their lives soon.
|People collected their personal belongings to leave Carina Plaza after the fire|
At first, the city will provide support of VND15 million ($661) for each casualty and VND5 million ($220) to the injured. However, the developer - 577 Investment Corporation and management board of Carina Plaza has yet to make an announcement related to their responsibilities or compensation for the damage.
Although holding a huge land fund, the business results of 577 Investment Corporation are getting increasingly worse. According to Viet Capital Securities Company (VCSC), NBB had to pay interest of around VND170 billion ($7.5 million) per year during 2010-2013. To tackle these issues, 577 Investment Corporation divested from other business operations to focus on real estate as well as renewed loans and raised equity capital.