A local official said seventeen people were killed in a predawn fire at a garment store in Butuan City, Agusan del Norte on Wednesday.
The fire, which started at around 4 a.m., reached the general alarm before firemen declared it out at 6:15 a.m. At least 21 employees, which are mostly women, were sleeping inside the three-storey garment store when the fire broke out.
The body's victims, which are yet to be identified, were retrieved from the building where the Novo Jeans and Shirt store is located along JC Aquino-Montilla Boulevard. Officials said some of the casualties died of suffocation.
Initial reports identified the injured as Grace Canoy, 21, saleslady; Vicky Velez, 18, saleslady; and Mylene Tolo, 25, cashier.
Survivors said they heard an explosion before the fire broke out and spread to the nearest establishments.
Most stores in the Philippines allow workers to sleep at the place of their works, to save time and money, especially those with faraway homes.
Photo: Mark Samson