Philippines store fire kills 24

A fire has swept through a one-storey department store in the central Philippines, killing at least 24 people, police have said.

The blaze, thought to have been caused by firecrackers, trapped many customers and vendors inside.

The store, in Ormoc city, 550km (340 miles) south-east of the Philippine capital Manila, was not licensed to sell firecrackers, reports said.

Several people are thought to have been injured, some seriously.

Police inspector Reynaldo Gabon told Reuters news agency the fire in Ormoc, on Leyte island, began late on Christmas Day afternoon and lasted about three hours.

Most of the bodies were found close to the store's toilet, from where the victims had tried to escape.

Senior superintendent Manuel Cobillo said emergency exits had been locked.

Firecrackers are often used in the country to celebrate Christmas and New Year but cause dozens of fires and deaths every year.

26/12/2006

Bron : BBC News

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