Authorities do tests after street hole spews flames in Vietnam metro

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Personnel from the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Science and Technology examine a hole that opened up and produced flames in a street Monday. Photo courtesy of Tuoi Tre

Ho Chi Minh City officials Tuesday took samples of soil, water, and air from and near a hole in a street that was found spewing fire and smoke the previous morning.

Personnel from the Science and Technology Department also used equipment to scan the area beneath the hole.

There was some water in the 10-cm wide hole in Binh Loi Street, Binh Thanh District, and it was still bubbling during the inspection though there was no smoke or fire.

Nguyen Van Manh, who lives nearby, told Tuoi Tre newspaper that he opened his front door at 6 a.m. Monday and noticed a hole which was around 30 centimeters deep and smoking.

He reported to the authorities and filled the hole with sand.

"But more smoke emerged, followed by a bluish fire that looked like fire from cooking gas, and immediately went out."

Locals have been referring to the hole as "volcano" since it kept bubbling and smoking through the day and produced a minor explosion at 4 a.m. Tuesday.

Nguyen Van Hao, deputy director of Gia Dinh Power Company, which supplies power to the area, said there are power cables below the hole, but his company can only check them after the science department finishes its tests.

The police have cordoned off the area around the hole.

Do Van Linh, deputy director of the Southern Geological Mapping Division at the General Department of Geology and Minerals of Vietnam, said the phenomenon is possibly connected to the formation of marshlands in the low district.

The process has accumulated organic substances which after some time produce flammable gases like methane, he said.

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