Written on 4:04 AM by yahoo
(9th UPDATE) Eight killed, 89 hurt in Makati mall blast
Eight people were killed while at least 89 others were injured after an explosion ripped through an upscale mall in Makati City Friday afternoon.
Red Cross and police officials said 56 people injured in the blast were rushed to Makati Medical Center while 33 others were brought to Ospital ng Makati.
In a press conference, Philippine National Police chief Avelino Razon said the blast in the Glorietta 2 ground level at 1:30 p.m. was "probably caused by a bomb" and not a gas leak as earlier reported.
"This was a bomb. But beyond that we can't say anything else yet because we are still investigating. What I can say is it was not LPG that caused this," Razon told reporters.
He said there was still no conclusive evidence to determine if the blast was caused by a C-4 bomb, a military explosive, or any other improvised explosive device. He added that the police cannot definitely say if the explosion was a terrorist attack.
Director Geary Barias, National Capital Region Police Office chief, said bomb debris carpeted a 200 square-meter area in the mall. "The ceilings are damaged and may collapse," Barias said.
The explosion ripped through the roof of the mall and damaged nearby shops. Debris from the blast were scattered on the streets.
A general alert has been issued for the rest of the city and for the international airport, officials said. A meeting of the National Security Council was called for later in the day.
Barias placed all police units in Metro Manila on full alert status and ordered district offices to put up more checkpoints in the metropolis. He added that he will order more policemen deployed in nearby malls to maintain peace and order.
"We will send policemen to other malls to restore order especially here in Makati and to prevent any untoward incident," Barias told reporters.
The blast, which occurred during lunch-hour, spread panic in the city of 12 million people, which has in the past been the scene of attacks by Muslim separatist rebels.
Several shoppers said the blast was heard from a nearby baby store in the mall. Liana Navarro, sister of Black and White Movement’s Leah Navarro and who was in the mall with her mother, said several people including children were seen with “obvious injuries.”
Another witness, Arel Vertucio, said the explosion was so strong that it was felt up to the third level of the mall. Vertucio said he saw some people lying on the ground.
Eyewitness Icy Marinas was only 15 meters away from the Glorietta explosion when it occurred. She said the blast felt like an "intense earthquake."
She said she saw a pregnant woman crying after the blast while other women started rushing out of the mall with their families. She added that she saw "three bloodied men" near the blast site while the security guards just stood around with no reaction.
Charlie Nepomuceno, an employee at the Glorietta mall, said the powerful explosion appeared to have centered on an escalator.
"It left a deep crater at the foot of the escalator," he said. "It also ripped open the roof of the building. I saw a man thrown on to the roof who had lost a leg."
He said a badly mangled body of a woman was near the escalator.
Manila has largely been spared a spate of bomb attacks by Muslim rebels that have plagued the southern Mindanao region. But it has been hit in the past. A series of bomb blasts in 2000 killed at least 22 people.
President Arroyo ordered the police to “leave no stone unturned” in its investigation on the explosion.
“The President is deeply saddened by this incident and extends her sympathies to the families of the casualties…She has also ordered the PNP to get to the bottom of things and to leave no stone unturned,” Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said in a statement.
Bunye said the President also ordered the Department of Social Welfare and Development to extend assistance to the victims. With a report from Reuters