Governor: No sign of massive casualties in Philippine fire

AP News
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Posted: Feb 02, 2017 11:22 PM
Governor: No sign of massive casualties in Philippine fire

GENERAL TRIAS, Philippines (AP) — A fire at a major Philippine factory complex that injured at least 126 workers and sent thousands fleeing to safety may finally be put out Friday, more than 40 hours after it began, with six employees unaccounted for, an official said.

Gov. Jesus Crispin Remulla said there was no indication of a considerable number of people being trapped in the factory of the House Technology Industries, which occupies six hectares (15 acres) of land in General Trias town in Cavite province, south of Manila.

The fire started Wednesday night and has nearly been extinguished, he said.

"If there are many missing, you'll have many families out in the door," he told The Associated Press, adding a head count by company officials showed six workers remained unaccounted for.

At least 126 were injured, including two Japanese supervisors, he said.

Firefighters and police investigators were waiting outside the gutted three-story building for the last embers to die and would start an inspection once it's safe for them to enter, he said.

The fire apparently started when a machine malfunctioned and triggered small explosions in a section with combustible materials as two shifts of workers of about 3,500 each were coming in and going out, he said.

Massive amounts of black smoke billowed in the night sky as red flames raged late Wednesday through the factory, which employs about 15,000 workers and is the largest in Cavite province, he said.

The factory, which manufactured pre-fabricated house parts for export to Japan, is located in a special economic zone in General Trias, about 26 kilometers (16 miles) south of Manila.

In 2015, a fire that rapidly spread in a rubber slipper factory in a northern Manila suburb killed 72 people, prompting then President Benigno Aquino III to order a thorough inspection of some 300,000 factories in metropolitan Manila alone. He ordered charges to be filed against the owners of the Kentex Manufacturing Corp. and local officials, who he said ignored the factory's failure to meet safety requirements.

The Kentex fire was one of the worst in the country after a 1996 disco blaze that killed 162 people in Manila.