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Saturday, May 16, 1998 Published at 02:18 GMT 03:18 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Patients die in hospital fire

Eleven people have died and nine others are missing after fire swept through a hospital in Manila, the capital of the Philippines.

The fire started at about 2.20 am local time, engulfing much of the second floor of the Lung Center of the Philippines in thick smoke and flames.

The missing people were all thought to be trapped in the hospital's intensive care unit, and firefighters attempting to reach them were blocked by the heavy smoke.

When they did get inside the building they immediately found six dead people inside the burned out wing.

Between 180 and 200 patients were thought to be in the three-story hospital when the fire broke out.

The hospital's chief of security, Raul Caberte, said smoke began pouring out of the lobby ceiling and then spread down the corridors radiating from it.

"We had fire extinguishers but they were useless because we couldn't find the actual fire," he said.

At least four of the dead had been hooked to respirators which failed when the fire caused an electrical blackout.

All the patients were evacuated. Some were moved to the adjacent Kidney Centre and other hospitals.

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