A massive fire that broke out in an apartment block in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi late on Tuesday killed 56 people, according to police.
“56 people were killed and 37 wounded,” Hanoi police said in a statement. At least three children also died, according to the French news agency AFP.
The fire allegedly started on the ground floor, where there was a parking lot for mopeds and motorbikes. The flames quickly spread to the upper floors. Firefighters managed to control the fire only after several hours, and rescuing residents was also made difficult due to limited access to the interior of the building.
About 150 people lived in the ten-story building, but it is not clear how many were in the block during the fire. In panic, some ran to the roof and jumped off the building to escape the fire, others tried to descend to the lower floors with a rope.
It is not yet known why the fire broke out. Prime Minister of Vietnam Fam Min Chinwho visited the scene of the accident and the survivors in the hospital, ordered an investigation into the cause of the fire.
Police said they arrested the owner of the building on suspicion of violating fire safety regulations.
Vietnam has seen several deadly wildfires in recent years, and Tuesday’s was the deadliest in 20 years. Elsewhere in Southeast Asia, fires with fatal consequences often break out, often as a result of inadequate safety standards.