The earth-shattering explosion of a Ho Chi Minh City fertilizer factory Friday claimed at least three lives and leveled a neighborhood, according to first official statements on the incident.
The former factory site is now a crater, six square meters across.
A powerful chemical stink liners in the air and cans and bottles litter the site.
The blast utterly destroyed the factory as well as seven neighboring houses.
Body parts were scattered around 100 meters away.
Shattered windows and pocked walls formed the radius of a 50 meter blast zone.
Officials estimate the damages could exceed US$100,000.
District 12 officials held a press briefing Friday night and announced that the blast had killed three migrant workers from the Mekong Delta’s Dong Thap Province--Nguyen Thi Cam Tu, 19, Nguyen Thi Ngoc Thanh, 30, and Huynh Thi Tam, 36, according to Voice of Vietnam.
The explosion occurred at around 4pm at the Dang Huynh company's 500sqm fertilizer factory on Le Thi Rieng Street.
Nguyen Thi Thuy Van, 30, a neighbor, and her daughter Pham Nguyen Thuy Duong, 4, are being treated at Cho Ray Hospital for injuries sustained in the collapse of their home. Two other neighbors were also sent to Cho Ray, but were discharged after being treated for minor injuries.
“I thought my house was bombed or our gas cylinder exploded," Van said during a sickbed interview at Cho Ray Hospital on Sunday morning. "I did not think that the blast came from a neighbor’s house.”
Van's attending physician, Dr. Tran Duy Hung, said her right leg was broken and she suffered numerous lacerations to her head and body.
Van's CT scans have not detected any internal or cerebral injuries.
Her daughter, however, suffered a hematoma under the skull.
“She’s normally very calm and collected normally but she’s quite scared and panicked," Hung said. "We’re keeping a close eye on her to intervene in time if there’s any complication."
Van said the blast was “deafening.”
“It felt like I'd been thrown out of my chair and then I knew nothing,” she said.
When she woke up, she heard her daughter calling to her.
“I wanted to run over her but I realized that we were buried in bricks.”
She could do nothing besides scream loudly for people to save them.
Her baby was dragged out of the ruins soon after she recovered consciousness, whimpering.
“She was covered in blood,” Van said.
She's grateful that at least part of her family escaped the nightmare.
The explosion happened just before her husband left to pick up their two other children from school, she said.
Van expressed suspicion about the factory’s activities, saying that its fertilizer production had ended around ten years ago.
“The factory was always closed tightly. The owners and workers rarely talked to anyone so we don’t know what they were doing in there,” she said.
Officials estimated that the blast caused billions of dong worth of damage.
Le Quoc Tuan, vice chairman of District 12, said they have created a temporary shelter for the affected families and will try to give them further support.
Police are still investigating the cause of the incident.