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Probe launched after deadly mall fire

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FIRE-NCCC-Davao
This photo taken on Dec. 23, 2017 shows people looking at a fire at a shopping mall in Davao City. Thirty-seven people were believed killed in a fire that engulfed a shopping mall in the southern Philippine city of Davao, local authorities said on December 24. / AFP

AUTHORITIES ordered a criminal investigation Monday into a shopping mall fire that killed dozens of people, most of them call center staff from an American firm. Justice Secretary Vitaliano N. Aguirre II announced the inquiry as the government raised the toll from Saturday’s NCCC mall fire in the southern city of Davao to one dead and 38 missing. US-based market research company SSI confirmed on its Web site late Sunday that 37 of its 500 employees were “lost” from its Davao unit, which leased the four-storey building’s top floor. The company said it has arranged for counseling for its employees, and will support funeral arrangements and set up a fund to assist the bereaved. The building’s administrators on Sunday denied allegations from survivors that there were inadequate emergency fire exits and that some of them were locked, while some relatives of those missing criticized rescuers for what they felt was the slow pace of recovery efforts. “They seem so relaxed,” said Jolita Basalan, weeping as she waited for news of her missing 29-year-old son Jonas who worked at the call center. “They are not pained because they don’t have a child there. They told us to come here but no one is moving,” she said. — AFP









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