5 jailed for deadly Vietnam factory fire

TN News

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Five people, including a Chinese national, got jail terms of up to 12 years for violating fire safety principles at an unlicensed textile factory in the northern city of Hai Phong after a fire killed 13 people last year.

The Hai Phong People's Court also ordered the defendants to pay over VND4.4 billion (US$208,800) in compensation to the victims.

In May 2011 Bui Thi Hien, 25, and her Chinese husband, 42-year-old Nhiep Thieu Phong, built the factory on land they rented.

The construction was not licensed and the couple ignored safety regulations like emergency exits.

They had also blocked the back door fearing thieves could break in and workers could smuggle out materials.

On July 29, less than a month after the opening, Le Van Bay, 27, and Nguyen Van Linh, 28, came to weld the factory's lightning rod, as being ordered by Bui Thi Su, the landlord.

During the process, sparks fell on the materials inside and set off a fire at a time when 45 workers were working. Some of them managed to escape, but 13 were killed and 25 others were seriously injured.

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The court gave Phong 12 years, Hien and Su 11 years, Bay 10 years, and Linh three-and-half years.

District authorities have been ordered to look into the possible complicity of local officials.

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