MANILA • Three people were killed and 23 injured after a fire broke out in a hotel in Manila yesterday, with others plucked by helicopter from the rooftop of the building engulfed in thick black smoke.
Police and rescue officials said the fire at the Waterfront Manila Pavilion, a high-rise hotel and casino complex, began in the morning and raged for more than nine hours, forcing more than 300 people to flee the area.
Of the three who died, two were identified as hotel employees.
"The two are a security guard and a treasury officer. They were likely trapped, suffered from suffocation and were brought to the hospital but declared dead on arrival," said Mr Johnny Yu, chief of the Manila Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office.
He said 23 people had been taken to hospital while two other hotel employees were missing.
Responders dispatched a helicopter to rescue people trapped on the roof as crews battled to evacuate others from lower floors.
The authorities were investigating the cause of the fire, which is believed to have begun in the casino or mezzanine area of the 21-floor hotel which regularly hosted both locals and foreigners.
Manila is one of 16 cities making up Metro Manila. Nearby cities were helping put out the blaze, its fire department said. Senior fire officer Marlon Banaag said: "This is a major fire. Those who inhaled smoke were taken to hospital."
Fires break out regularly in the Philippines, particularly in slum areas where there are virtually no safety standards. The deadliest in recent years was in suburban Manila, where 72 people died in 2015 at a rubber slipper factory.
In the city of Davao, 38 people died in a fire in December that ravaged a shopping mall and call centre.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS