The Ho Chi Minh City fire police have worked out a plan to inspect the basements of trade centers and other public buildings to prevent gas suffocation or poisoning, according to Colonel Le Tan Buu, director of the local Fire Prevention and Control Police Department.
The inspection will be carried out following an incident in which more than 20 people passed out at the Big C Supermarket located in the basement of The Garden building in Hanoi on March 14, Colonel Buu said.
“So far, we have yet to record any cases of gas suffocation or exhaust gas poisoning at trade centers or large public buildings in the city,” the official said.
During regular inspections, officials always pay attention to exhaust gas discharge or exits in case of fire or explosion, and to areas vulnerable to gas poisoning, he added.
Architect Nguyen Truong Luu, deputy chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City Architects’ Association, said that large buildings should install CO2 gauges in their basement so measurements can be displayed on a screen in the office in charge of this matter.
Through such a gauge, managers can control the quality of air in basements around the clock, preventing cases similar to the incident at the Big C.
As previously reported, all 20 of the victims involved in the incident have recovered after intensive treatment.
In a press release issued on Monday, the Binh Minh Thang Long Real Estate Management Joint Stock Company, under the Bitexco Group, which manages The Garden Building, said the incident was caused by a lack of oxygen in the cashier area in the basement.
The air shortage resulted from the fact that a large volume of CO2 from the parking lot had entered the Big C area, leading to the poisoning.
This large volume of CO2 had been discharged from the motorbikes of more than 1,000 people who had left the parking lot after attending an exchange session with South Korean film artists at the building that evening, the company said.
Moreover, the air humidity level was high and there was no wind at that time, which contributed to the gas poisoning, it added.
Ta Van Thanh, head of the company’s Public Relations Department, said, “We will make a plan to prevent and handle similar cases in the future.”
Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper correspondents have carried out fact-finding tours of many multi-story buildings both in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi and found that most of them are stuffy.
On Monday afternoon, the parking garage in the basement of Tu Du Hospital on Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1 was crowded with hundreds of motorbikes, leaving only a narrow path for people to enter and leave.
As a result, the air there was hot and stuffy thanks to exhaust gas from motorbikes, affecting many people, including pregnant women.
The same hot air was felt in the underground parking area at Nhan Dan Gia Dinh Hospital in the city’s Binh Thanh District, although the basement is equipped with small ventilation openings and electric fans.
At Hoan My Saigon Hospital on Phan Xich Long Street in Phu Nhuan District, the parking basement was also stuffy, despite the installation of an air-conditioning system.
The same stuffiness could be felt in many basements at other buildings in the city, including the parking lots of the 11-story C.T. Plaza near Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Tan Binh District, and the An Phu Big C supermarket at the Daewon building in District 2.
Meanwhile, in Hanoi, basements are used not only for parking, but also for trade purposes.
Like in The Garden, a part of the basement at the Keangnam tower is used for trade centers and supermarkets, while the other section is for a parking area that can house thousands of motorbikes.
Similarly, the Lotte building’s basement is divided into two sections: one for a trade center and the other for a large parking lot.
In general, in such buildings, the design of basements and the arrangement of motorbikes in their parking lots are arbitrary and do not follow any norms or standards.