Asia-Pacific

Vietnam shoe plant fire kills 17

Charred remains of the shoe factory in Hai Phong (30/07/11)
Burning debris blocked escape routes in the factory

At least 17 people have been killed in a fire at a shoe factory in northern Vietnam, police and local media say.

Some 21 other people were injured in the blaze at the plant in the port city of Hai Phong, reports say.

Local media quoted a survivor, Bui Thi Them, as saying sparks from a welding machine had ignited the roof of the building.

Burning material fell from the roof, blocking the exit, Mr Them said, trapping the victims inside.

"The fireball blocked the factory's main entrance and there is no exit on the back," Mr Them told the Thanh Nien newspaper, AFP news agency reported.

"Many people in the middle of the factory which was engulfed with fire and smoke could not escape and were burned to death."

Ten of those killed were women, the Associated Press new agency said.

Thanh Nien was quoted as saying six people, including the factory owner, her husband and a welder, have been detained over the incident.