A fierce blaze tore through a discotheque packed with students celebrating graduation today, killing more than 150 people and severely injuring dozens more, officials said.
The death toll was expected to rise. More bodies might still be buried in the debris, said fire inspector Claro Querubin.
When the fire broke out shortly after midnight, there were an estimated 350 people in the Ozone Disco Pub in suburban Quezon City, many of them taking part in high school and college graduation parties, survivors said.
“It was like hell,” said disc jockey Marvin Reyes, who watched flames catch the hair and clothes of screaming victims.
Bodies of people who had tried unsuccessfully to escape were piled waist-deep in a narrow corridor leading from the dance floor. Others were crushed beneath a collapsed mezzanine ceiling.
The wails of relatives searching for loved ones added to the chaos as firefighters put out the blaze. Rescuers soon accumulated the names of more than 100 people still missing from the disco.
“I tried to announce there was a fire, but the microphone stopped working,” Reyes said.
“We saw smoke and tried to run outside, but were caught in a stampede,” said one survivor, who gave only her first name, Rose. “I was stepped on, but managed to force my way out.”
She said two of the three friends she was with were missing.
“I could not do anything,” said Reny Megis, a door guard at the disco. “There was just a rush of people.”
Megis said his own son was among those killed inside.
Fire Inspector Warlito Daus said the disco had no proper fire exit.
Quezon City police Chief Hercules Cataluna said the fire was the Philippines’ worst ever. Radio reports said it started when a cooking fuel tank exploded.