Vietnamese police start probe into motorbike explosion, crime suspected

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Police in the northern Vietnamese province of Bac Ninh said Thursday they have begun an investigation into the death of a pregnant woman and her daughter three weeks ago when their Honda motorbike suddenly exploded.

Colonel Nguyen Cong Nghiep, deputy chief of the province police, said they had discovered signs of a "crime" in the case, but refused to elaborate.

On Dec 1 Nguyen Thi Quynh, 29, was about to take her daughter to school in Bac Ninh city when her Super Dream motorbike exploded as soon she started it. Quynh, who was three months pregnant, and her four-year-old daughter Nguyen Khanh Van were taken to hospital but the woman died soon after.

Van went into a coma with severe burns and multiple injuries, including a broken bone in her right thigh. Her left foot had to be amputated. She was transferred to the National Institute of Burns on December 8, but died five days later.

The Ministry of Public Security's Criminal Science Institute was then asked to do a forensic examination of the burned motorbike to find out what caused the explosion.

On Thursday the institute said it had completed a report but refused to divulge further information.

Honda Vietnam released a statement the same day saying it is willing to cooperate with the police in the investigation.

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According to a Thanh Nien source, the Ministry of Public Security has asked fire departments around the country for a full list of recent vehicle explosions.

In a latest wave of incidents, at least three Honda motorbikes caught fire Thursday.

A Wave Alpha and an Air Blade parked in the house of a couple in Bac Ninh Province's Que Vo District suddenly caught fire at around 3 a.m.

Nguyen Duc Thuy and Nguyen Thi Luan were sleeping on the first floor when their neighbors phoned saying they heard crackling sounds and saw smoke rising from the ground where the vehicles were parked.

By the time the couple rushed downstairs, only the bikes' frames were left.

Thuy said the eight-year-old Wave Alpha and three-year-old Air Blade has been working normally until then.

In the central city of Da Nang, Nguyen Thi Ngoc Han, a 21-year-old student, parked her Honda Wave in front of her friend's house.

Two minutes after she switched off the engine, it suddenly restarted and smoke began to rise from the saddle which then caught fire.

A neighborhood mechanic used a fire extinguisher to put it out.

Han said the bike was a year old and maintained periodically.

Nothing had been wrong with it and she had installed no additional components, she added.

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