1 body recovered, 36 feared dead in Philippines mall fire

Paolo Duterte Davao's Vice Mayor and son of President Rodrigo Duterte testifies at a Senate hearing on drug smuggling in Pasay Metro Manila Philippines

37 people have probably died in a fire in a shopping center in the Philippine city of Davao last night.

The Davao region chief of the Bureau of Fire Protection, Wilberto Rico Neil Kwan Tiu, told weeping relatives of the missing that he personally counted "around 36" bodies in an office lobby at the gutted mall.

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. "By punishing those responsible, we can set an example to others so that, hopefully, there will be no repetition of these tragedies", Aguirre said in a news statement. The firefighters won't stop until all those reported missing are found, Duterte-Carpio said.

Deadly blazes occur regularly in the Philippines, particularly in slum areas where there are virtually no fire safety standards.

According to the president's spokesman Harry Roque, Paolo's resignation letter had been received, while Davao's mayor and the president's daughter Sara Duterte said that she didn't know whether the resignation would be accepted.

The fire, which broke out in the four-storey NCCC Mall before it opened, killed 37 people working in a 24-hour call centre for US-based market research firm SSI on the top floor.

"This bad tragedy has left us with heavy hearts", Laben said.

Only one body was retrieved on December 24, as firefighters had difficulty going through the ruins, where huge parts had collapsed.

Mall administrators have denied that fire exits were inadequate or blocked.

"We offer our condolences and prayers to the families and loved ones of the victims".

Firemen concluded that all those trapped in the building are dead, she said, adding, "They assessed that no one would survive in that heat and with that thick, black smoke".

The Davao City Mayor said that no one anticipated the decision of his brother to leave his post as Paolo had been talking about withdrawing from public office after his name was dragged in alleged corruption at the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

Mayor Duterte said they are taking the cue from their father, President Rodrigo Duterte.

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