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Manila fire leaves 5 dead, hundreds homeless

Catholic prelate appeals for aid for victims as festive season draws near

Residents rummage through the charred remains of their settlement in Manila after it was devastated by a fire that lasted five hours on Nov. 14

Residents rummage through the charred remains of their settlement in Manila after it was devastated by a fire that lasted five hours on Nov. 14. (Photo supplied)

Published: November 16, 2022 11:43 AM GMT

Updated: November 17, 2022 05:53 AM GMT

Disaster authorities evacuated hundreds of families in Manila on Nov. 14 due to a fire that lasted for five hours and left five people dead, including a mother and her two-year-old son.

The conflagration which began at 4 in the morning took hours before firefighters put it out due to a water interruption in the area.

“It is an area with many illegal settlers. So, you could just imagine that many houses were made of light materials. They could easily be consumed by flames because many were made of wood,” Manila firefighter Donald Pernia told UCA News.

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All casualties were female including a mother who returned to get her two-year-old son, who likewise died.

“Teresa Lopez, 40, went back into the house to get her baby. We warned her but it was too late. She thought she could make it. She made it going to her house but she didn’t make it on her way out,” Pernia added.

Authorities said the houses were close to one another which made the flames spread quickly.

“The distance of each house was the perfect recipe for disaster. Besides the houses being made of light materials, the fire could not be contained by our firefighters because it spread easily and quickly,” Fire Superintendent Joel Diwata told reporters on Nov. 15.

More than 20 water trucks were required to neutralize the conflagration.

Hundreds of families are sheltered in basketball courts and in Catholic churches with their infants and children, according to the authorities.

A senior Catholic official on Nov. 15 made a public appeal to help the victims with basic needs.

“Serving Christ the King in the hungry, the homeless, and the sick… For whatever you did for one of these least brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me,” Bishop David told UCA News quoting a biblical passage.

Bishop David said many of the victims were surprised at how fast the fire spread because of the liquefied petroleum gas tanks that exploded.

“Many of the people ran for their lives and literally jumped into the dirty water of Manila Bay, unable to save any of their belongings.  Several of the victims were active Church ministry volunteers. One of them was part of our Diocesan Synodal Team that prepared the video version of our Diocesan Synodal synthesis report,” Bishop David said.

“It’s going to be a bleak Christmas for them. Let us please generously extend to them any form of assistance in their hour of need. If we belong to the one Body of Christ, then the pain of one part will be felt by the rest of the body,” he added.

Victims of the fire pleaded for potable water, food packs and hygiene kits.

“Right now, our stomach is the most important thing. Children are getting sick so we need proper nutrition to nourish our body,” Navotas parishioner Nelle Frias told UCA News.

Frias is the aunt of Darlene Baluyot, 19, who perished in the fire.

The Church’s social arm has already posted its bank account for potential donors.

“God blesses the generous and cheerful giver! In the middle of poverty, may we not forget to help the less fortunate,” Caritas posted on Facebook.

The country has recorded 2,619 fire incidents since January, according to the Philippine Information Agency. The figure is higher compared to a total of 1,812 fire incidents during this period in 2021.

Philippines has recorded an average of 1,734 fire incidents annually in the last ten years.


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