Wednesday , June 7 2023

700 summoned to trial for deadly HCMC apartment building fire

Over 700 people have been summoned by the HCMC People’s Court for a trial of a fire at the Carina complex in 2018 that killed 13 people.

Nguyen Van Tung, 46, former director of the Hung Thanh Company, the main investor of the Carina apartment complex; and Nguyen Quoc Tuan, head of the management board of the Carina building, had been put to trial on Wednesday for “offences against regulations of law on fire safety and firefighting.”

The court has summoned over 700 people, including 642 defendants and 70 others related to the case. 10 lawyers will be defending Tung, Tuan and other people.

The trial is expected to last until April 10.

On March 22, 2018, a 27-year-old person parked an Attila motorbike in Block A of the Carina apartment complex. At around 1 a.m. the next day, small sparks and puffs of smokes began to come off of the vehicle. Eight minutes later, flames began to engulf surrounding vehicles in the basement, producing smokes and heat that would eventually spread to other levels in the building.

The building’s automatic fire alarm and firefighting systems did not operate as they should. The fire began to get stronger, and lasted for another 13 minutes without anyone knowing what was happening.

13 people died and 72 others were injured in the incident. Over 500 motorbikes and 81 cars were destroyed in the fire.

An investigation revealed that the Attila motorbike’s electrical system malfunctioned, leading to the fire.

So far, the main investor of the Carina apartment complex has compensated victims of the fire with around VND120 billion ($5.1 million).

At the court, prosecutors said Tung had been informed by the building’s management board that the automatic fire alarm and firefighting systems did not function, yet he did not request for reparation or replacement.

“Tung’s behavior was a violation of fire prevention principles, which is the preparation of resources, plans and other conditions for firefighting,” prosecutors said.

Tuan, as the head of the management board of the building, knew the firefighting system was not working as they should, yet did not request the main investor of the building to repair or replace the system, the indictment said.

The fact that the doors leading to the fire escape staircases were not closed also allowed toxic fumes to spread to other floors, causing casualties.

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