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Written on 4:15 AM by yahoo

(UPDATE 15) ‘Bomb likely’ in Makati mall blast--Razon

8 dead, more than 80 hurt

By Thea Alberto
Agence France-Presse, INQUIRER.net
Last updated 06:40pm (Mla time) 10/19/2007

MANILA, Philippines -- An explosion that killed up to eight people at a shopping mall in Makati City early Friday afternoon was "probably caused by a bomb," Philippine National Police Director General Avelino Razon told Agence France-Presse.

Razon and Alfonso Reyes, spokesman of Ayala Corp., which operates the Glorieta 2 Mall where the explosion occurred at around 1:40 p.m., said eight people had been killed. Makati Councilor JunJun Binay said there were 86 people wounded.

Binay, quoting what he acknowledged was “raw information” from authorities, also said at least one of the dead was a Korean.

Dr. Anthony Golez, spokesman of the National Disaster Coordinating Council and deputy administrator of the Office of Civil Defense, told INQUIRER.net from the Makati Medical Center that there were four dead and 56 wounded at the hospital.

A partial list of the injured at the Makati Medical Center (see list at end of article) showed another Korean and a Chinese national were among the injured.

Police investigators at the scene of the explosion identified four of the dead as Liza Marquez, Jose Allan de Jesus, Lester Peregrina and nursing student Janine Marcos. All died of shrapnel injuries.

At an earlier press briefing carried live by radio and television, Dr. Ernesto Santos of the Makati Medical Center said the four fatalities were “dead on arrival” and at least two of the wounded were “critical.”

Santos said the other casualties all suffered “blast injuries.”

Asked to describe the fatalities at the Makati Medical Center, Golez said they died due to "burns and massive internal bleeding."

"It doesn't look good," he said.

Razon said: "From our assessment this is not what was initially reported as LPG [liquefied petroleum gas].”

"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."

Director Geary Barias, chief of the National Capital Region Police Office, said they have yet to determine whether the explosion was caused by a grenade or an improvised explosive device and " are not discounting anything," including the possibility that the explosion was a terrorist attack.

Barias also said there had been no intelligence reports prior to the blast, despite a terror alert issued earlier this month by the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, which is composed of various security institutions like the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“We actually picked up several dead and wounded,” Binay said.

He said the explosion left an eight-meter (26-foot) wide crater on the ground floor and blew a hole through the roof on the second floor.

"From what I have seen it was a significant explosion and that most of the dead and injured were all employees," he said.

Witnesses said the blast occurred in a section of the mall with clusters of stores selling baby clothes and toys.

The explosion had panicked shoppers running out of the mall as smoke billowed out of the building.

Mall security and police immediately sealed off the area and shepherded people away as ambulances rushed in to evacuate casualties.

People leaving the mall told INQUIRER.net said they felt the whole shopping complex shake as from an earthquake as the “strong” explosion happened in the area between the Glorietta 1 and 2 buildings. They also said they saw windows shatter from the blast.

Witnesses said part of a ceiling collapsed while a concrete wall was blown out.

Two cars and two delivery vans were buried under wooden planks and concrete debris outside the mall.

"It was so powerful," clothing store clerk Jeric Balendes told AFP on the scene, as rescuers applied first aid on his cuts and bruises.

"The roof just collapsed on us. I could hear my three co-workers screaming. I got out through a small hole. I don't know if they got out."

Bomb debris carpeted a 200-square-meter (2,100-square-foot) area, he added.
"The ceilings are damaged and may collapse," Barias said.

As of this posting, police are conducing a post-blast investigation to determine what caused the explosion and although the whole area is yet to be inspected, Binay said all fatalities have been recovered.

Barias also inspected the nearby SM mall to ensure there will be no other explosions.

The United States and Australia both offered technical help in investigating the blast, and Australian experts were understood to be helping Filipino police on the scene.

Binay said roads to hospitals in the city have been secured as rescue teams continued to scour the area where the explosion occurred, which the councilor described as “severely damaged,” for more possible victims.

“We’ll keep the area evacuated until we know more,” Reyes said.

He also assured the victims and their relatives of assistance from Ayala Corp.

“We will certainly makes sure [that] anyone [who] needs attention will be able to get it,” Reyes said.

Police did not immediately name likely suspects for the attack, but Islamic extremists were blamed for a bomb attack on a bus near the site of Friday’s explosion. That attack killed four people in February 2005.

Militants also firebombed a ferry on Manila Bay the previous year, killing more than 100 people in the country's worst terrorist attack.

Arroyo's National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales has previously said the government was not ruling out future attacks on "soft" targets such as shopping malls.

Following are the names of 34 of the injured rushed to the Makati Medical Center. The list is current as of 3 p.m. Friday.

Donald Santos
Julia Hernandez
Anna Patria Villareal
Ellen Garcia
Abraham Jose
Ma. Ceronara Estilles
Fely Reyes
Agnes Ramilo
Shirley Boleno
Socorro Yrastroza
Ma. Lourdes Perez
Mutya Santos
Arlene Pansal
Robinson Orlanda
Hernanin Asis
Sally honopra
Carmen Enriquez
Alberto Gonzales
Regina Montenegro
Christopher Pineda
Hei Wun Kim (Korean)
Queene Ngo (Chinese)
John Henry Pascual
Evangeline de Leon
Jerry Canaban
Elizabeth Liboro
Jeffrey Burser
Maricel Marcelo
Lady Katrina Santos
May Flor Garcia
Angela Maria Soriano
Mary Flor Gopis
Josephine Santos
Mabini Garcia

With a report from Joel Guinto and Lawrence Casiraya, INQUIRER.net; Originally posted at 1:39pm


Copyright 2007 Agence France-Presse, INQUIRER.net. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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