An explosion broke out at a house in an alley in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 10 on Saturday, killing four students and injuring another. It is suspected that the blast occurred when one victim was mixing banned chemicals to make firecrackers for this upcoming Tet (lunar New Year).
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They were Ngo Quang Thien (20, electricity faculty), Doan Trung Hieu (23, transportation faculty), Bui Quoc Loi (21, in-service student of civil engineering faculty) and Nguyen Hoang Nhan (22, in-service student of civil engineering faculty), according to Vo Tan Thong, head of the school’s student management department.
In addition, student Le Van Ha, (20, electricity faculty) was seriously burned, and is being treated at hospital.
The four bodies are being kept at An Binh Hospital and will be sent home after autopsies have been performed. The National University of Ho Chi Minh City is conducting necessary procedures to support their families, Thong added.
According to initial information, when the explosion occurred, Nguyen Thi Nam (59, house owner) immediately ran into the street and shouted out to the students to leave the house.
As the flame flared up so quickly, the entire house was engulfed in flames and smoke after just a few minutes. Many people living in the neighborhood tried to use mini fire extinguishers to put out the fire but all efforts failed.
According to a man living nearby, there was a big blast followed by small explosions.
The Fire Prevention and Fighting Police Department of District 11 sent six fire trucks and 36 officers to the scene. However, when the forces arrived, the fire had become so intense that it took them over 30 minutes to put it out.
After the fire was extinguished, fire fighting forces discovered four charred remains inside the house and one student seriously burned. All the belongings were destroyed.
Flammable chemicals for firecrackers the cause?
According to police, the house was divided into many rooms of approximately 32m2 for rent to students.
Lieutenant Colonel Huynh Quang Tam, police chief of the municipal Fire Prevention and Fighting Police Department, said the cause of the explosion may be flammable chemicals used for making firecrackers.
According to Vo Trung Hoang Van – a roommate who escaped unharmed, two days ago, Hieu – one of the deceased victims – came to Kim Bien market and brought home some chemicals, including sulfur and magnesium to make firecrackers.
Hieu planned to bring the firecrackers back to his hometown for the coming Lunar New Year, or Tet, holiday, said Van.
It is suspected that when Hieu was mixing the chemicals to make firecrackers, chemical reactions occurred, which caused the blast.
The house owner told police she knew nothing about any storage of explosive chemicals in that room.
“When it happened, I just thought it was due to electrical or gas explosion. But storing and using explosive chemicals are beyond my imagination,” the landlord added.
Lieutenant colonel Huynh Quang Tam told Tuoi Tre that it is prohibited to mix chemicals to make fireworks and explosives. In fact, since 1994 Vietnam has banned firecrackers even during Tet.
According to Tam, carrying flammable chemicals into the room is a law violation and too risky. These are substances subject to the management of fire-fighting forces and the people are not allowed to buy.