Monday 19 March 2018

Dozens of workers die in fire at slipper factory

Relatives weep as they wait for news
Relatives weep as they wait for news
A fireman tackles the blaze

Oliver Teves in Manila

A fire gutted a rubber slipper factory in a suburb of the Philippine capital yesterday, killing dozens of workers. Many of them ran to the second floor of the building in hopes of escaping only to become trapped by the smoky inferno, officials said.

At least three bodies have been recovered and fire officials found no survivors after the fire was put under control, said Mayor Rex Gatchalian of Valenzuela city, north of Manila.

Relatives reported 65 people missing, and Mr Gatchalian said only seven people managed to escape the fire. There could be others who are listed as missing but were able to escape, he said. The mayor said later that forensic operatives stopped trying to retrieve bodies of the victims because the structure was unstable.

District Fire Marshal Wilberto Rico Neil Kwan Tiu said he was among the first to reach the second floor of the gutted building after the fire and saw "numerous bodies" many charred beyond recognition.

Radio reports quoted relatives as saying their kin sent text messages saying they were on the second floor, but contact was lost shortly after.

Gatchalian said the fire apparently was ignited by sparks from welding works at the main entrance door, triggering an explosion of the chemicals used to make the slippers. It took five hours to bring the fire under control.

Irish Independent

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