Traders in central Vietnam hunt for gold and money in the ashes at Quang Ngai market, in which goods valued at US$9.6 million were destroyed in a fire on Thursday.
An official from Vietnam's central bank has proposed to the governor that victims of a recent market fire should be allowed to exchange burned currency for free and be given access to low-interest loans.
Tran Luyen, director of the state bank branch in Quang Ngai Province in central Vietnam, has asked the bank to order other lenders to allow traders affected by a provincial market fire on Thursday to borrow at preferential interest rates so they could resume their businesses expediently.
He also suggested lenders permit the traders to defer scheduled payments on existing debts, news website VnExpress reported.
At least 89 of the traders owe more than VND3 billion (US$143,700) to Sacombank.
Luyen also sent an urgent proposal to the state bank governor about the cash exchange program and asked that traders hold onto their burnt polymer notes so they could receive new notes in return.
The fire at the province's largest market caused no casualties but destroyed nearly all the goods of 424 traders, causing damage worth VND200 billion (US$9.6 million), according to the market's managers.
But most traders and managers do not have fire insurance.
Many traders said their total losses reach VND250 billion, when the cash and gold left at the market are included.
The traders said they had decided to keep their property at the shops, where they spent more time than at home.
They also hesitated to put money in the bank as their business require plenty of cash on hand.
Two days after the accident, many vendors were still walking around their former shops, searching for the gold and money they left behind.
Bui Thi Mai, a clothes trader, said she still could not find more than six teals of gold she kept at the market.
"I've been working for decades to save 20 teals of gold and several tens of million dong. I've only found 13 teals and a half. The rest might be all burnt," the woman said in tears.
But she is more fortunate than her daughter Nguyen Thi Nga, who has been unable to find the four teals of gold which represent her life savings.
"I thought it would be safer to keep my property at the market," Nga told VnExpress.
She also lost goods worth more than VND200 million ($9,600) in the fire.
Numerous official documents such as credit books, home ownership titles and tax records also went up in flames.
The fire, believed to have been caused by an electrical leakage, started at 4 a.m. and took 12 hours to extinguish, due to the late arrival of local forces and an insufficient number of fire trucks.
Local authorities are planning to dismantle the market as it is susceptible to collapse, and set up a temporary one.