Fire at Philippines mall leaves dozens trapped, feared dead

One person's body was recovered as a fire left at least 37 people were left trapped in a shopping mall in the Philippines on Saturday. Photo by Ruby Ebrano/EPA

Dec. 24 (UPI) — A fire that burned through a shopping mall in the Philippines left at least 37 people trapped inside with little hope for survival.

Mayor Sara Duterte confirmed one body has been recovered from the blaze that began at the New City Commercial Center in the city of Davao Saturday and said the priority is for rescuers to track down the remaining victims.

“Do not stop until you find the 37,” she said.

Paolo Duterte, the vice mayor, said firefighters haven’t been able to find a way inside the mall as the fire continued to burn on Sunday.

“Our firemen are still struggling to find a way in as the fire is still burning,” he said. “Their chances of survival is zero.”

Davao City Fire Marshall Honeyfritz Alagano said the fire hasn’t been extinguished yet but is under control.

She added the blaze began on third floor of the mall in a furniture store.

“The mall had insufficient ventilation and it’s an enclosed space, so the fire and smoke could not get out,” Alagano said. “This is what responders saw when they went in, smoke and fire.”

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, father of both the mayor and vice mayor, visited the mall on Saturday night and promised to provide assistance to the families of the victims.

“The president went unannounced last night to the NCCC mall and assured the relatives of the victims that the government would extend help,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said. “Let us include them in our prayers in this moment of grief.”

The fire came as Tropical Storm Tembin brought mudslides and floods to Mindanao, the country’s second largest island, leaving hundreds dead or missing.


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