Fireworks were going off in the northern Vietnam for all the wrong reasons yesterday, when a military-run fireworks factory about 75 miles north of Hanoi exploded, killing dozens and leaving many more injured. The precise death toll is still unclear: the AP puts it at 19, while AFP reports 24, and the search and rescue operation continues. About 200 workers were in the factory at the time of the blast, reports the AP—they had been working weekends in order to have fireworks ready for the the Lunar New Year festival in January.
A policeman tells AFP that it appears some of the explosives self-ignited, starting a fire and causing more explosions. Many of those injured in the blast suffered terrible burns, and local hospitals have reportedly been overrun with victims. The explosions also damaged nearby homes, forcing at least 1,000 locals to evacuate, according to local media, per the AP. (Read more Vietnam stories.)