Deadly blaze at Philippine department store

Seventeen people killed as overnight fire sweeps through sleeping quarters for some of store's female employees.

    Authorities say the cause of the fire which broke out on Wednesday morning is unknown [AFP]
    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


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Cricket World Cup 2019 Quiz: How many runs can you score?

    Cricket World Cup 2019 Quiz: How many runs can you score?

    Pick your team and answer as many correct questions in three minutes.

    Visualising every Saudi coalition air raid on Yemen

    Visualising every Saudi coalition air raid on Yemen

    Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Arab states have launched more than 19,278 air raids across Yemen.

    Remembering Chernobyl

    Remembering Chernobyl

    The fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion remains as politicised as ever, 28 years on.