‘Time bombs’ in HCMC

April 15, 2013 | 10:18
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Many people in Ho Chi Minh City have not complied with fire and explosion prevention and control regulations, while chemicals to make explosives can be bought easily in markets, a Tuoi Tre investigation has found.

Many unsafe acetylene cylinders found in HCMC

The investigation was conducted a few days after an explosion in District 3 killed 10 people in a house where dynamite had been stored by Le Minh Phuong, a 58-year-old expert in creating fire and smoke effects for movies.

Currently, it is easy to find online instructions on how to make dynamite, firecrackers and flares, and the materials needed for these products are available at some markets. Bay, a member of a forum at http://ro...info, said, “materials for making dynamite can be bought easily at HCMC Kim Bien Market.”

On the afternoon of February 25, Tuoi Tre reporter visited a shop in the market in District 5 and asked to buy such materials. The shop’s assistant said, “The wholesale price is VND30,000 (US$1.44) per kilogram and we sell by bag, each weighing 25 kilograms.

“This kind is the best, while another type is just VND17,000 per kilogram,” the assistant said.

At a chemical shop on Hai Thuong Lan Ong Street, also in District 5, the reporter was told the prices of every explosive material sold there.

One of the materials was made in China and costs VND825,000 per 25kg bag.

Invoices can be provided, the shop’s attendant said, adding that the price can be reduced a bit for anyone who buys more than 10 bags.

At another shop nearby, G, an employee, said they could offer all of these materials at lower prices than other businesses.

Ngo Van Co, a lecturer of chemical engineering at the University of Technology, said there are many types of chemicals that can cause fires or explosions when they are mixed.

Co said substances that easily catch fire or are prone to explosions should be stored carefully, and they should be kept separately from each other.

Those who come into contact with materials must comply with safety regulations and should be knowledgeable in how they work.

“Delayed-action bombs”

Also on February 25 Tuoi Tre, visited several residential areas in HCMC and found that many people are not aware of the risks from materials prone to fire or explosion.

Nguyen Van Ha, 38, of Hiep Binh Phuoc Ward in Thu Duc District, told Tuoi Tre that a business that stored, handled and provided liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) illegally had just been shut down.

Previously, local residents lived in fear as this business did not comply with safety regulations, posing a great threat to the area, Ha said.

Relevant agencies should conduct city-wide inspections and force such dangerous establishments to shut down.

Along Binh Long Street in Tan Phu District, Tuoi Tre found many mechanic shops using acetylene cylinders or air compressors that were covered with rust. Such dangerous devices were used freely in crowded residential areas.

At a business that processes iron and steel, such equipment was used while electrical wires snaked along the floor.

On Tan Ky Tan Quy Street, also in Tan Phu, Tuoi Tre found a barber’s shop surrounded by two motorbike repair shops and a mechanic shop. These shops had many cylinders of compressed oxygen or acetylene to cut or weld metal, all of which were covered in rust.

Reporters later visited a tile shop on Phan Anh Street in District 6 and noticed a burnt odor, which the shop’s attendant said comes from a nearby factory that cuts and handles iron and steel.

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