Belfast Telegraph

Home News World

Fire at Philippines market kills 15, including six children

A pre-dawn fire in the Philippines raced through public market stalls, killing 15 people, including six children, who were sleeping there to be up early for the weekend crowds.

Thirteen other people were injured in the three-hour blaze in Zamboanga city, a major port about 540 miles south of Manila, the capital.

It apparently started when sparks from low-slung electric post cables set fire to pavement stall umbrellas then ignited stacks of used clothing being sold at the city market, said police Senior Superintendent Angelito Casimiro.

The victims were clothes sellers who slept at their stalls, including at least six children, so they could be up early for the weekend market that usually draws large crowds, said police investigator Rafael Salcedo.

"One vendor saw the electrical sparks set a stall umbrella on fire, but many were asleep and the others thought somebody was just playing a prank until the fire started to spread," he said.

The victims' bodies were taken to a nearby Muslim mosque prior to burial, he said.

Firefighters, who have been on alert along with police for All Saints' Day ceremonies in the predominantly Roman Catholic nation, prevented the blaze from spreading to nearby commercial buildings.

Mr Salcedo said that daily blackouts might have caused power fluctuations, but Bureau of Fire investigators would decide whether officers in charge of fire safety could be criminally liable.

Dilapidated buildings, a lack of adequate fire safety systems and inspectors, and weak enforcement of fire safety regulations have contributed to many fires in the Philippines.

In 1996, a disco fire killed 162 people, mostly students celebrating the end of the school year in one of the deadliest nightclub fires in the world.

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting?


From Belfast Telegraph