[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific
Deadly blaze at Philippine department store
Seventeen people killed as overnight fire sweeps through sleeping quarters for some of store's female employees.
Last Modified: 09 May 2012 07:35
Authorities say the cause of the fire which broke out on Wednesday morning is unknown [AFP]

A fire has swept through a department store in the Philippines, killing 17 people.

The blaze broke out early on Wednesday morning in Butuan on the southern island of Mindanao.

At least 21 female employees of the store were said to be asleep in the building at the time.

"21 people were asleep on the second floor when the fire struck the ground floor," Chief Inspector Mario Palarca of the provincial fire department told AFP news agency.

Eleven bodies were recovered soon after the fire was put out, said Palarca. Investigators later found six other bodies, one of his aides said.

Saleswoman Vicky Belez, one of the survivors, said she had only survived because she was in the bathroom when the fire broke out.

"I was in the bathroom. Then I saw the huge flames outside so I ran out immediately. There was a lot of smoke and the flames were already huge," the 21-year-old said as doctors treated her burned arms.

It is common in the Philippines for people in low-paid jobs to sleep at their place of work.

The store's assistant supervisor, Berlita Ballestero, said there was only one emergency door linked to the employees' living quarters.

"They must have had trouble getting out because there is only one fire exit," she told AFP.

The cause of the fire is not yet known.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
Anti-government secrecy organisation struggling for relevance without Julian Assange at the helm.
After decades of overfishing, Japan is taking aim at increasing the number of bluefin tuna in the ocean.
Chinese scientists are designing a particle-smashing collider so massive it could encircle a city.
Critics say the government is going full-steam ahead on economic recovery at the expense of human rights.
Spirits are high in Scotland's 'Whisky Capital of the World' with one distillery thirsty for independence.
join our mailing list