Fireworks for Hanoi’s birthday bash explode, 1 killed and 3 injured

By Tran Van Minh, AP
Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fireworks explode in Vietnam, killing 1

HANOI, Vietnam — Fireworks intended for Hanoi’s upcoming 1000th birthday celebration exploded prematurely Wednesday, killing at least one person and injuring three foreign technicians, a police officer said.

The blast occurred just before noon at My Dinh stadium, one of 29 sites in the capital where fireworks were planned for Sunday’s anniversary bash. The injured included technicians from Singapore and Germany, said the officer who declined to give his name because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

It was not immediately clear what sparked the explosion that shook buildings and shattered car windows. A giant column of smoke rose over the city and eyewitnesses reported seeing hundreds of people running from the site.

“I saw a lot of smoke. It was total chaos,” said a woman who lives 1 kilometer (a half mile) away and cycled to the stadium after hearing the blast. Another woman who was selling ribbons and stickers outside said the stadium had been filled with people rehearsing for the ceremony.

Both women declined to give their names because of the sensitivity of the incident.

Police quickly sealed off the site and declined to comment officially. Reports by several online Vietnamese newspapers about the blast were abruptly removed after being posted.

Hanoi has spent millions of dollars this year sprucing up the city for the grand celebration, which will include a parade of 30,000 people. The fireworks display was expected to be the event’s grand finale, involving water screens and lasers at the stadium to tell the story of Hanoi’s history.

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