PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — AN explosion rocked the busy Makati Central Business District yesterday afternoon killing at least eight persons and injuring more than 100.
Authorities fear the number of fatalities could rise further because of the critical condition of some of the wounded.
Those killed on the spot were identified as Jose Alma de Jesus, Edward Enriquez, Liza Enriquez and Janine Marcos. Four others were declared dead on arrival at the Makati Medical Center. They and the injured could not be immediately identified.
“There may be more people inside,” said National Capital Region Police Office chief Director Geary Barias, who rushed with Philippine National Police chief Director General Avelino I. Razon, Jr. to the disaster site.
|President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo listens to the survivors of the Glorietta bomb blast during her visit to the Makati Medical Center, Makati. MELYN R. ACOSTA/PCPO/ PNS|
“The ceilings are damaged and may collapse,” Barias said.
Bomb debris carpeted a 200 square meter area, he added.
The explosion was so powerful it left a crater at the ground floor of Glorietta 2 mall.
Barias ordered a red alert for the entire Metro Manila area.
Reports said the explosion occurred around 1:30 p.m. at the delivery area a few meters away from Luk Yuen Noodle house.
People inside the mall panicked and scampered for safety.
Barias said they have yet to determine the real cause of the blast but they suspect it was not caused by a leaking LPG tank.
“Kelangan naming imbestigahan ito nang mabuti and we don’t want to speculate on this matter,” Barias said, adding the extent of the damage could not be attributed to an LPG tank explosion.
Razon later in the afternoon ruled out a liquefied petroleum gas tank explosion in the Glorietta 2 blast.
“During the initial probe, our post-blast investigators have ruled out an LPG explosion but they’re still looking for pieces of evidence, all the clues, the possible bomb residue at the scene,” Razon said.
The PNP chief also said it is not yet conclusive to say that C-4 plastic bombs used by the military caused the explosion.
“We have no evidence yet to prove that speculation,” he said.
Razon said they are looking at all angles as of yesterday “but can’t say if this is truly a terror attack.”
“What we can say at the moment is it is not an LPG tank explosion,” he said before entering the PNP conference room where he had a closed-door conference with his men including Barias.
The PNP chief said he has ordered a review of the closed-circuit television footage at the Glorietta 2 to find out possible leads that could help them in their investigation.
He did not confirm reports that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation has offered to help in the investigation. The blast prompted the management of Landmark and Park Square 2 to close down their establishments as policemen started their investigation. The damaged area of Glorietta 2 will be closed indefinitely while engineers check its structural integrity, according to Alfie Reyes, corporate spokesman of Ayala Land Inc.
People inside the mall were herded out as the police cordoned off the area and rescuers pulled out the injured and dead.
Reyes said in a statement Ayala Land is ready to shoulder all the medical expenses of those who were killed and injured.
“We are still investigating the explosion but we don’t want to speculate. We are very concerned about those who were affected and injured and we will provide medical treatment,” he said.
Makati City councilor JunJun Binay said, aside from creating a crater on the ground floor of the mall, the explosion 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.
The bodies of three of the dead lay covered in blankets on the floor of the adjacent car park, being used as an emergency medical assessment area.
“There was a sudden explosion,” said Christine Calope, one of the injured. “I don’t know if it was inside or outside the mall.”
Witnesses said the blast occurred in a section of the mall with clusters of stores selling baby clothes and toys.
Meanwhile, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay in a statement issued from Fukuoka, Japan, urged the authorities to be as thorough as possible in their investigation and to look at all probable angles to determine the cause of the blast and who were behind it.
“The investigation should be seen as credible, impartial and thorough in order to dispel speculations about a possible link between the explosion at Glorietta and recent political developments. I sincerely hope that this is not the case but given the political situation, these speculations cannot be helped.”
Binay also urged everyone to pray for the families of those who were killed and injured in the explosion.