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Last Updated: Monday, 12 January, 2004, 15:05 GMT
Fire guts Manila shanty town
By John Mclean
BBC, Manila

Officials in the Philippines capital, Manila, say a fire in a slum area has destroyed 2,500 dwellings and left 22,000 people homeless.

One firefighter was injured tackling the blaze, but there were no other reports of casualties.

SHANTY FIRE
Scene after the fire in Baseco shanty town

The fire broke out overnight in Baseco shanty town in the Tondo district of Manila, one of the city's poorest areas.

It took firefighters more than seven hours to bring the blaze under control.

They had difficulty in getting access to the flames because the shacks were built so close together with very narrow paths in between.

Officials said the fire displaced 4,500 families - about 22,000 people.

The authorities immediately began an operation to feed and shelter those driven from their home.

President Gloria Arroyo visited the scene to inspect the relief effort.

Captain Adam Bithao, Chief Investigator of the Manila Fire Department, told BBC's East Asia Today programme, that arson had not been ruled out.

But he said the fire appeared to have started after a domestic dispute in a house with candlelight.

He said the authorities were still looking for the couple involved.

Fires are common in Manila's slum areas, and this was the third such blaze in the area in the past few years.


WATCH AND LISTEN
Captain Adam Bithao, Manila Fire Dept.
"There was a quarrel between the husband and wife and suddenly the fire broke out"



SEE ALSO:
Country profile: The Philippines
04 Dec 03  |  Country profiles


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