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Fire hits Philippine mall; 2 dozen employees feared trapped

UPDATED: Sat., Dec. 23, 2017

Associated Press

DAVAO, Philippines – A Philippine official says firefighters have recovered one body from a burning shopping mall and there is “zero” chances of survival for 36 other people trapped inside the four-story building in southern Davao city.

Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said Sunday firefighters told distraught relatives of the 36 trapped employees of a business outsourcing company at the top floor of the NCCC Mall that nobody could survive the extreme heat and thick black smoke in the building.

It is unclear when firefighters can break into most areas of the mall, where the blaze was put under control Sunday morning although smoke continued to billow from the popular shopping venue.

Duterte-Carpio said firefighters won’t stop until they find all those reported missing.

“The fire hasn’t totally been put out,” Romina Marasigan, spokeswoman of the government’s disaster-response agency, said.

President Rodrigo Duterte and Roman Catholic Church officials visited the site late Saturday to meet with relatives of the trapped office employees and asked them to pray.

The mall’s marketing manager, Janna Abdullah Mutalib, said the fire started Saturday morning at the third floor where clothes, appliances and furniture are sold, after a storm hit Davao and flooded parts of the city.

Duterte served as Davao mayor for many years before being elected to the presidency last year.

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