The Nation



Vientiane market destroyed in fire

Photo : Mahason Magazine

Photo : Mahason Magazine

Photo : Mahason Magazine

Photo : Mahason Magazine

Photo : Mahason Magazine

Photo : Mahason Magazine

A huge fire engulfed the biggest market in the Laotian capital last night, destroying most of the market but not causing any injuries.

Explosions were heard during the fire at Thong Khan Kham market, which started about 7.40pm local time on Wednesday.

One shopkeeper, who operates a curtain shop on the street outside the market, told China's Xinhua news agency that the fire broke out in a corner of the market and quickly spread. Most of the shops were made of wood, enabling the flames to fast gain the upper hand and ravage the structures.

The shopkeeper said the market had closed slightly more than an hour earlier at 6.30pm.

Fire fighters spent several hours struggling to put the flames out, partly because of their small number.

Xinhua reporters witnessed shopkeepers braving the extreme heat to rescue their goods as the fire continued to engulf the area. The streets were filled with frantic people making it difficult for fire trucks to navigate the area.

The fire knocked out power for surrounding areas and locals were told to evacuate the area. Eyewitnesses told Xinhua that the explosions were probably from cooking gas.

Khan Kham is one of Vientiane’s most renowned markets and sells everything from fresh produce to baskets, clothing and tools.

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