DAVAO CITY, Philippines (AP) — Philippine officials say a fire gutted a shopping mall in a southern city and some two dozen employees may have been trapped inside.

The fire sent thick black smoke into the air and people scrambling to get out.

At least 37 people are missing or feared dead.

President Rodrigo Duterte and Roman Catholic Church officials visited the site late Saturday to meet with relatives of the trapped office employees and asked them to pray.

The mall’s marketing manager, Janna Abdullah Mutalib, says the fire started Saturday morning at the third floor where clothes, appliances and furniture are sold.

A Philippine official says firefighters have recovered one body from a burning shopping mall and there is “zero” chances of survival for 36 other people trapped inside the four-story building in southern Davao city.

Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said Sunday firefighters told distraught relatives of the 36 trapped employees of a business outsourcing company at the top floor of the NCCC Mall that nobody could survive the extreme heat and thick black smoke in the building.

It is unclear when firefighters can break into most areas of the mall, where the blaze was put under control Sunday morning although smoke continued to billow from the popular shopping venue.

Duterte-Carpio says firefighters won’t stop until they find all those reported missing

The fire comes as the country is reeling from a storm that hit Davao and flooded parts of the city, causing landslides and killing dozens of people.

TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Comments
  1. This was probably God punishing the filipinos for all of the s %^&ty customer service those fruitcakes provide to us when we call the 800 numbers.
    Thank you Lord for such a wonderful holiday gift.

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