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    Death toll climbs to 33 in Vietnamese karaoke parlour fire

    HANOI (AP) – The death toll from a fire at a karaoke parlour in southern Vietnam has climbed to 33, officials said yesterday, with police blaming some of the fatalities on customers who failed to heed employees’ warnings to flee and remained inside locked rooms.

    The death in a hospital of a person who was injured in the Tuesday night fire added to the 32 victims – 17 men and 15 women – found earlier in a search of the four-storey building housing the An Phu karaoke parlour in Thuan An city in Binh Duong province, the Vietnam News Agency and other state media reported.

    The fire was put under control within an hour, but continued to smoulder into the next day, hindering recovery efforts, officials said. Because the blaze collapsed parts of the building, efforts to conduct a complete search extended into yesterday.

    About 60-70 people were inside the building at the time of the fire, and survivors either jumped – often injuring themselves in the process – or were rescued by firefighters using ladders. About 40 people were treated at hospitals, where about 10 remained yesterday in serious condition.

    The online news site VnExpress quoted the provincial police director, Colonel Trinh Ngoc Quyen, as saying at a news conference yesterday that the high number of deaths was due to some customers ignoring employees who went to the rooms where groups were singing to tell them to escape.

    He was quoted saying that most of the customers were intoxicated, and that firefighters found that most of the rooms were locked from the inside.

    Officials at the news conference said the establishment had passed fire inspections. The cause of the fire was not yet clear, though media reports said it was thought to have been an electrical short circuit. They speculated that the fire spread quickly because of flammable soundproofing foam and wooden fixtures.

    Victims of karaoke parlour fire are treated in a hospital in Thuan An city, southern Vietnam. PHOTO: AP
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