The cause of the fire had not been confirmed by Saturday evening, but investigators said there had been no reports of casualties.

Hundreds of families are now staying at an evacuation centre, while others had to sleep outside when the centre became full.

A fire marshall said the blaze could have originated from a stove.

Fires are common in the metropolis of 12 million.

"When we left our home, one of the rooms was already in flames. So we really needed to escape," Erlinda Doronila, who has lived in Bunyi for 37 years, said.

"All that I was able to salvage was our documents, the children's papers. If we didn't come down, my two children would have suffocated."

Looters on the prowl

Some residents were quoted in the local media as saying that looters took their remaining belongings.

Aida Prayco, a mother of four, appealed to the new president to help them start over.

She said they had no food or clothes, and had to sleep on cartons and leftover campaign posters.

"I hope the president will help us, who suffered from the fire. That's all. We really have nothing left," Prayco said.

Some victims spent the night in a makeshift shelter, guarding their precious belongings, including television sets and refrigerators.