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Friday, 1 November, 2002, 04:24 GMT
Welders arrested over Vietnam fire
Survivors in hospital in Ho Chi Minh City
More than 100 people were injured in the blaze
Two welders have been arrested in Vietnam following a fire at an office complex in Ho Chi Minh city which killed more than 60 people.

The men were working at a discotheque on the second floor of the building, and it is suspected that sparks from their equipment may have started the blaze.

The fire at the six-storey Saigon International Business Centre on Tuesday left more than 100 injured.

Earlier, officials had pointed to a gas leak and faulty wiring as possible explanations for the blaze.

Rescue workers have continued to hunt through the burned-out building for bodies.

Four foreigners are among the dead.

'One fire exit'

A spokesman for Ho Chi Minh's People's Committee was quoted as saying the welders were working on lighting in the disco at the time the fire started.

Apparently they used their shirts to try to stop the blaze, but it quickly spread out of control.

The BBC's Clare Arthurs in Hanoi says the men have been charged with breaching fire laws.

A third colleague has been missing since the fire, which burned for about five hours before it was put out on Tuesday evening.

It is not clear how many people were in the building at the time.

The trade centre, a former bank which housed jewellers and offices for several foreign companies, reportedly had only one exit.

Firefighters were hampered by a lack of equipment and difficulty getting water to the flames.

Earlier estimates suggested the number of dead would reach 100.

Our correspondent says heroic stories of people sacrificing themselves to lead others to safety have filled the state media for days.

See also:

31 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
29 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
28 Sep 02 | Country profiles
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