Many people are feared dead after a massive fire broke out Tuesday night at a nine-story apartment building in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi, according to officials.
Considered to be one of the deadliest fires Vietnam has contended with in over a decade, the blaze broke out around 11:30 p.m. in an apartment complex that housed approximately 150 residents, The New York Times reported.
Though state-run media have estimated the number of dead to be around 30 or 40 people, officials with the city’s emergency services department announced that a death toll had not yet been finalized. The Vietnam News Agency simply reported that “dozens” of residents had been injured or killed in the blaze, according to The New York Times
Those who managed to escape the fire were reportedly being treated at local hospitals for smoke inhalation and injuries sustained as they fled the building, according to the Associated Press (AP).
Due to the narrow and labyrinthine alleys that make up Hanoi’s Thanh Xuan district, fire officials had a difficult time accessing the apartment building as their fire trucks had to park almost 1,300 feet away, according to The New York Times. (RELATED: 11 Dead In France After Fire Rages Through Vacation Home For Disabled Adults)
One family revealed that they had managed to escape the inferno by smashing through the metal railings blocking their window and placing a ladder across to a neighboring building, according to BBC News.
“I heard a lot of shouts for help. We could not help them much,” a local resident, identified only as Hoa, stated, according to BBC News. “The apartment is so closed with no escape route, impossible for the victims to get out.”
Another witness claimed to have seen a little boy thrown from an upper window in a desperate attempt to save his life.
“The smoke was everywhere. I don’t know whether he survived or not although people used a mattress to catch him,” she stated, according to BBC News.
Though the cause of the fire is still under investigation, witnesses claim the fire began on the lower floor of the building, which serves as a parking garage. Witnesses further stated the area was packed with motorbikes.