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Manila explosion death toll rises

The death toll from a powerful explosion that ripped through an upmarket apartment complex in the Philippine capital has risen to six, including the crew of a passing delivery van that was hit by debris.

The explosion on Friday night punched a large hole in the wall of the Manila building and sent concrete chunks flying onto the street below, which was teeming with pedestrians. Three people in the van were crushed to death.

The Office of Civil Defence said three more bodies were recovered at the Serendra building, a plush complex surrounded by restaurants and shops in Taguig city in metropolitan Manila.

Five others, including a nine-year-old, were injured.

The authorities were initially looking into a gas supply issue, and residents were kept out of other buildings as officials assessed the supply maintenance.

Interior secretary Mar Roxas, who visited the site with President Benigno Aquino III, told reporters that the building was evacuated and all possible angles were being investigated. He said a forensic examination was not yet finished.

"This could be an accident, this could be an explosion of chemicals. This could be anything. Let us not speculate," he said.

He urged the public to refrain from speculating if the blast was linked to recent travel advisories issued by the US, British, Canadian and Australian governments for the troubled southern Philippines, which cited a risk of kidnappings and terrorist activities.

Muslim militants have targeted the Philippine capital in the past, but most attacks have been confined to the southern region, where minority Muslims have fought for self-rule for decades.

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