At least 65 people are reported killed or missing
by Sarah Lazare, Common Dreams
At least 65 people have been reported missing or dead after a fire consumed a rubber slipper factory in a suburb of the Philippine capital of Manila on Wednesday.
Rex Gatchalian, mayor of the suburb of Valenzuela where the disaster took place,reportedly said that it took fire fighters four hours to quell the blaze and bodies were found inside the building.
According to the mayor’s account, the explosion occurred when welding sparks near the factory entrance caused an explosion of the chemicals used in the manufacturing process.
When workers fled to the second floor in an effort to escape, they were reportedly trapped. “By the time they realized that they could pass through the main door, the flames were already engulfing the front area,” said the mayor, according to the Associated Press.
Jun Panalo, a worker who reportedly leaped from the second floor, told Reuters, “We were all confused because almost everybody was panicking. I jumped out, and then someone followed me. I jumped through the fire. My hair was burned.”
Between 200 and 300 people worked at the factory, said owner Veato Ang.
It was not immediately clear whether fire escapes or protections were in place.