Thursday, January 17, 2019
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Probe ordered into Philippine shopping centre fire

Criminal inquiry ordered into shopping-centre tragedy in Mindanao even as island reels from impact of tropical storm.

Philippine shopping centre

Authorities in the Philippines have ordered a criminal investigation into a fire at a shopping centre on Mindanao island over the weekened that killed 37 people.

The fire erupted on Saturday morning on the third floor of the New City Commercial Cente in Davao City, about 1,000km southeast of the capital Manila, trapping shoppers inside.

Vitaliano Aguirre, justice secretary, said the investigation should "determine if someone is at fault and should be held criminally liable."

"By punishing those responsible, we can set an example to others so that, hopefully, there will be no repetition of these tragedies," he said.

The fire started after a storm hit Davao and flooded parts of the city, although it is not clear what exactly caused the blaze, which spread to a call centre on the top floor.

On Monday, firefighters announced they had recovered the remains of all 37 people that died in the fire.

The bodies were found near a staircase that led to a lobby.

"This terrible tragedy has left us with heavy hearts," the chief executive of the company that employed the victims said.

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

On Sunday, President Rodrigo Duterte met victims at the scene.

The Philippines leader previously served as Davao City's mayor for more than 20 years.

The blaze happened as the Philippines struggled to deal with the devastating impact of tropical storm Tembin, which led to mudslides and flash floods on Mindanao on Friday.

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