Fireworks factory blasts in Vietnam leave 19 dead
At least 19 people died and dozens more were injured in an explosion at a fireworks factory in a military complex in northern Vietnam.
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.
Tran Minh Khanh, deputy director of the provincial health department, said the explosion injured more than 90 workers, many of them seriously. The bodies of 19 workers were pulled from the wreckage, state media said.
Local hospitals received many of the victims, some with horrific burns. The most critical cases were moved to a specialist burns centre outside Hanoi.
"I couldn't recognise my daughter. She was burned from her face to the soles of her feet," one woman said. "She was pregnant, she couldn't escape the explosion quickly 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. About 1,000 residents were also evacuated. "The first blast was at 7.55am - and then there were continuous explosions for some hours," said Phi Xuan Trung, chairman of the local Khai Xuan commune.
"There was a strong smell of gunpowder and the ground was shaking many kilometres away," he added.
Residents in Thanh Ba district, where the complex is located, also said they felt the ground shake.
"After the first explosion, my house was shaking and the door smashed open," said resident Nguyen Nhu Quynh.