A column of smoke at Z121 firework factory seen afar, after an explosion, in the northern province of Phu Tho on October 12. At least 7 people died.
An explosion took place at a Ministry of Defense's firework manufacturing factory in the northern province of Phu Tho on Saturday, leaving at least 23 dead and over 90 others injured.
The blast occurred at the Z121 factory around 7:40 a.m. Local agencies have not released official number of casualties yet.
The blast caused tremors that affected areas as far as four-seven kilometers from the site, witnesses told Thanh Nien News.
Glass windows were broken or smashed open, while columns of smoke could be spotted afar.
Some reports said it took place at the factory's firework storage, and explosions continued as rescue efforts were going on.
Thousands of people were evacuated from the site.
Major General Le Quang Dai, head of Phu Tho's Military Headquarters, told VnExpress online newspaper that tens of workers were believed to be on site when the blast happened.
Most of them managed to flee, but Dai did not rule out the possibility that some others were still trapped.
According to Dai, on weekdays there are around 300 workers, mostly female, but there are not many who work at weekends.
Dinh Huu Phu, mayor of Thanh Ba District, where the factory is located, said all local forces including the police and military were mobilized to the site to rescue victims.
The cause is yet to be ascertained. The fire has now been brought under control, a local police officer said.
The factory's spokesman was quoted by VnExpress as saying that it was an accident and that they are now focusing on handling it consequencecs.
A factory under the ministry's General Department of Military Industry, Z121 is the sole producer of fireworks in Vietnam.
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