WHOLE families gripped the metal grilles in terror, weeping
and calling for help as firefighters doused them with water
to try to
cool them down.
A pre-dawn fire that ripped through the six-story Quezon
City Manor Hotel yesterday killed at least 70 people and
least 41 more, becoming the worst fire disaster to hit the
country since the 1996 Ozone Disco blaze in the same city.
A total of 168 evangelists were staying at the budget
hotel along Kamias Street, to attend the "Dawn Flower
Destiny Conference," a Christian crusade sponsored
by the Texas-based Don Clowers Ministries.
Many of the casualties, including children, died of suffocation
and smoke inhalation in their rooms. The only marks on most
bodies were black patches of soot around their mouths and
nostrils. Only one fatality was recovered with severe burns.
The cause of the blaze, which was first noticed before
4 a.m. and put out two hours later, could not immediately
Initial investigations showed a strong possibility of a
short circuit, officials said.
Arson investigators are looking into reports that the
hotel tapped its electricity from another building at the
back of the Manor,
said Senior Supt. Jacinto Diquiatco, Bureau of Fire Protection
(BFP) northern fire district director.
Initial reports showed the fire was caused by "overheating"
of the air-conditioning system, according to a police spokesperson.
Quezon City Mayor Feliciano Belmonte said the fire most
probably started near a restaurant and karaoke bar on the
third floor of the hotel, possibly in its kitchen.
From the outside, Manor hotel did not even appear to be
damaged. The flames did not spread very far, but thick columns
Only the interior of the third and fourth floors were
clearly ravaged by the flames but on the upper floors that
were untouched by
the fire, dead bodies were found lying in hallways and hotel
At the height of the tragedy, fire fighters waged an uphill
battle trying to rescue hotel guests trapped in their rooms
by iron bars on
the windows and balconies.
"It was a very depressing scene, especially it was
sad to see the victims just helpless," Johnny Yu, Metro
Manila director for civil
defense, told Agence France Presse.
President Macapagal-Arroyo visited survivors in one hospital,
then tried to console relatives of victims.
"She told me that I can be assured of assistance
from the government, but she did not specify what help,"
said Purita Legazpi,
whose cousin died in the fire.
A total of 70 people, including three children, were confirmed
dead as of noon yesterday. Sixty-two bodies were brought
Camp Karingal in Sikatuna Village, Quezon City. The others
were in hospitals, police said.
All information on the casualties will be compiled at
the camp, officials said.
The BFP said 41 of the injured were brought to the East
Avenue Medical Center (EAMC), Quirino Labor Hospital, the
Center, the V. Luna Medical Center, and the Quezon City