MANILA, April 19, 2011 (AFP) – A huge fire razed a sprawling residential compound in the Philippine capital’s financial district Tuesday, leaving up to 10,000 people homeless, authorities said.
Arson investigators said the blaze was triggered by a faulty electric cooker in a house at the Laperal compound in Makati city in Manila. It was the fifth major fire at the compound, which is filled with informally built shanties.
“I just came from the area and we estimate the number of families displaced went beyond 2,000, or up to 8,000 to 10,000 people,” city mayor Jejomar Binay Jr. told reporters. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
Binay said the huge compound was privately owned but that informal settlers had over the years erected clusters of homes that the city government had earlier warned were fire hazards.
“The compound had burned down four times in the past,” Binay said. “It is very clear it is very dangerous to live there.”
He said the city government would temporarily house those affected at two private sports stadiums while a permanent relocation site was prepared.
Deadly slum fires are common in the Philippines, where years of unabated migration from rural areas has led to the proliferation of sprawling shanty towns.
In Manila alone, 37 percent of the 12-million-strong population live in slums, the Philippine Institute for Developmental Studies said in a 2010 report.
It said the slum population in the metropolis would reach nine million in the next four decades.
Up to 30,000 people lost their homes in successive slum fires in Manila in February, while in January 12 people, most of them children, were killed when a fire razed an impoverished coastal are