8 dead in Christmas Day fires, riot in Philippines

AP News
Posted: Dec 26, 2012 12:25 AM
8 dead in Christmas Day fires, riot in Philippines

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Angry residents beat a man to death and threw rocks at firefighters after a shantytown fire left thousands of people homeless, and another Christmas Day blaze in the Philippine capital left seven people dead, officials said Wednesday.

A resident was beaten to death by his neighbors after shouting that he started Tuesday's shantytown fire in suburban San Juan city, Senior Fire Officer Domingo Cabog said.

The man was reportedly drunk and was not responsible for the fire. Cabog said the fire started in a house where children were playing with lighted candles.

Some 5,000 people were left homeless and 13 people were hurt in the shantytown. The injured included two firefighters and a volunteer hit by rocks that were thrown by residents who were impatient and tried to grab fire hoses to save their own shanties, Cabog said.

As firefighters struggled to penetrate the narrow alleys, one of them was mauled by a mob and rescued by a police officer, Cabog said. Two fire trucks also were damaged in the violence.

"It's Christmas and many of the men in the neighborhood were drunk," Cabog said, adding that some residents brandished knives.

The homeless were given shelter at a gymnasium and in tents near a basketball court. Police were investigating the beating death but no one was immediately arrested Wednesday.

In Quezon City, another of the 16 cities that make up metropolitan Manila, a predawn fire Tuesday killed a veterinarian and six household members who were trapped inside a house, said arson investigator Rosendo Cabillan. The blaze was suspected to be triggered by an overloaded electrical circuit, he said.