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21 reported killed in Vietnam firework factory explosion

14 October 2013

An explosion at a fireworks factory has killed at least 21 people in Thanh Ba district, north Vietnam. The incident at the military-run plant also left at least 98 people injured, prompting the evacuation of about 2,000 people living near the area, a military rescue official told the AFP.

The factory is the only facility in Vietnam that produces fireworks to be used for Lunar New Year festivals and other major public events. The unit employs some 300 workers, mostly women, according to Vietnamese online newspaper VNExpress.

Major-General Le Quang Dai told the paper that only several dozen employees were working at the time of the explosion, because it was Saturday. Authorities tried to isolate the explosion to prevent it affecting two explosives warehouses nearby, he said.

Several sections of the multi-building factory were destroyed in the explosion, and some nearby homes were also damaged, Dai said.

Loudspeakers urged people within 15 kilometres of the military facility to leave the area.

The fire was subsequently brought under control and an investigation into the cause of the accident has been opened.

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