Mystery blast kills three in Manila

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 June, 2013, 2:16pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am


Officials say they still do not know what caused a powerful explosion that ripped through a luxury apartment complex in Manila, killing six people.

The blast on Friday night blew out the walls of an apartment on the fifth floor, sending a slab of concrete flying on to the street below and smashing into a delivery van. Its driver and two of his crew were crushed to death.

Five others, including an American and a nine-year-old, were injured, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said.

Authorities initially suspected a gas supply issue, and residents were kept out of other buildings as officials assessed the risks.

A telephone operator at the Taguig city police station said the explosion came from an appliance and was not caused by a bomb.

Roxas, who visited the site with President Benigno Aquino, said the building was evacuated and all possible angles were being investigated. He said a forensic examination was not finished.

The massive explosion hit the Serendra building, a plush condominium complex surrounded by restaurants and top-quality shops frequented by Manila's upper class and expatriate community in Taguig city in metropolitan Manila.

Roxas said three separate teams of bomb sniffing dogs from the police and the army, which combed the wrecked apartment and the debris, did not find any indication of explosives being used.

"We are not yet saying that this was not caused by a bomb, but this is factual. These three teams did not register any fumes or residue of ordinary bombs," he said.

"Right now, we still do not know what caused the explosion. We are not ruling out anything."

Roxas urged the public to refrain from speculating if the blast was linked to recent travel advisories issued by the United States, British, Canadian and Australian governments for the restive southern Philippines, where they referred to a risk of kidnappings and terrorist activities.

The south is the home of some of Asia's most active Islamist groups.

Muslim militants have targeted the capital in the past, but most attacks have been confined to the southern region, where minority groups have fought for self-rule for decades.