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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

48 Dead in Ho Chi Minh City Fire

HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam -- A large fire raged through a six-story building in Ho Chi Minh City on Tuesday, killing at least 48 people and injuring more than 100, officials and news reports said.

Dozens more people were believed trapped, firefighters said.

At least one unidentified foreign man was among the fatalities and six staff members of a U.S. insurance company were missing, officials said.

A wedding reception was being held in the building at the time of the fire, Ho Chi Minh City Television said. It said about 500 people were inside the structure when the blaze broke out.

Firefighters were still unable to enter the building in the early evening -- more than four hours after the fire broke out -- because of extreme heat.

At least one person could be seen at a window trying to summon rescuers, but firefighters said they did not have the necessary equipment to reach him. Flames raged at other windows.

The American International Assurance Co. was conducting a training program in the building for about 100 of its insurance agents when the fire began, said a company official who identified herself only as Tien. Six staff members were missing and about 30 were injured, some seriously, she said.

"A bell rang and then the electricity cut off," she said. "The fire came very fast."

The cause of the fire in the city's downtown area was not immediately known, but police said they suspected it started in the Blue Disco, the city's most popular dance spot.

The disco has been attacked in the state-controlled press in recent days for allegedly condoning "social evils" such as drug use.

State-run Vietnam Television said at least 48 people were dead. Hospital officials said more than 100 were hospitalized, many with serious injuries.

Ho Chi Minh City, formerly called Saigon, is Vietnam's southern commercial center.