At least 12 dead as packed Vietnam karaoke bar engulfed in flames

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At least 12 people were killed and 40 others injured after a karaoke bar in southern Vietnam was engulfed in a massive fire.

The blaze spread across the second and third floor of the three-storey karaoke parlour in ThuâÌ£n An city of Binh Duong province on Tuesday night, around 9pm.

The fire spread vigorously and grew strong with the help of soundproof foam and interior woodwork, forcing the people in the packed bar to jump from the windows.

Among the injured, 11 people were in critical condition and several were treated for broken limbs and injuries caused by falling from a height, official Vietnam News Agency.

The fire continued for 40 minutes before it was extinguished with the help of 13 fire trucks.

The cause of the fire remains unknown and is being investigated by the agencies.

Photos and videos from the bar which is located crowded residential neighbourhood of Ho Chi Minh City showed huge clouds of thick black smoke billowing from the bar as firefighters on cranes worked to extinguish the flame.

Duong Ba Khuong, a 27-year-old employee of the parlour, told VN Express International, that it began after he heard some explosions on the first and second floors of the building.

Some of the employees went to check and saw columns of smoke billowing, he said, adding that they used mini fire extinguishers but they were useless in front of the massive blaze.

“When the fire broke out, I was so panicked and ran for safety and can’t remember how it happened,” a witness, who identified herself only as Quynh, told state media.

Karaoke bars have gained huge popularity in the country over the country with several swanky karaoke parlours coming up in Ho Chi Minh City. However, lax safety standards at venues have raised concerns among the authorities.

Prime minister Pham Minh Chinh on Wednesday ordered the ministry of public security and provincial authorities to investigate the cause of the fire.

Mr Chinh also ordered cities and provinces across the Southeast Asian country to ramp up safety standards at facilities, including karaoke bars.