ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) - A strong explosion hit a pension house in Zamboanga City late Sunday night leaving 3 dead and 27 injured.
The explosion, which occurred past 9 p.m., destroyed the second floor of the Atila Pension House in Barangay Canelar, Zamboanga City.
The fatalities were identified by city police chief Senior Superintendent Edwin de Ocampo as Roel Barcelona, Fidel Aguias and a certain Mariz. De Ocampo said the initial report erroneously identified a certain Noel Delgado as one of the fatalities.
Police said they had also found traces of chemicals used in making improvised bombs in the ruins of the Atilano Pension House, hours after the Sunday night blast in the port of city of Zamboanga on Mindanao island.
The force of the blast destroyed the upper floor of the two-storey building, while a fire that followed the explosion quickly razed the ground floor, Agence France-Presse journalists at the scene said.
De Ocampo said initial investigation showed the explosion was likely caused by an improvised bomb, although no group had yet claimed responsibility for the attack.
According to Jose Meljohn Duran, one of the survivors, he was at the first floor of the pension house during the explosion.
He said the roof and other parts of the pension house quickly gave way after the explosion.
Duran said he was lucky to escape and leave the building before the fire spread.
He said around 20 people from Pagadian City in Zamboanga del Sur were checked in at the pension house at the time of the explosion.
The 20 guests were scheduled to attend a wedding on Monday afternoon.
Based on information from Zamboanga City health officer Dr. Rodel Agbulos, 27 were injured, most of whom sustained minor bone fractures and shrapnel wounds.
Four injured were brought to Ciudad Medical Zamobanga, namely Raul Dumalga, 33; Christie Amor Lanipa, 22; Sitin Arsenia, 20; and a girl who is 3 to 4 years old.
Seven injured were sent to Brent Hospital for treatment, namely:
- Julian Balais, 23 (Basilan resident)
- Jennifer Balais, 24 (Basilan)
- Jennibee Balais, 22 (Basilan)
- Jonas Laseco, 24 (Pagadian City)
- Virginia Morselia, 28 (Pagadian City)
- Enrique Antonio, 19 (Kumalarang, Zamboanga del Sur)
- A girl who is 3 to 4 years old
Also, 15 were being treated at the Zamboanga City Medical Center, while one was confined at the Edwin Andrews Airbase Hospital. Their names have not yet been released.
The city of Zamboanga has been the target of frequent bomb attacks, often carried out by Islamic extremists and armed gangs operating in surrounding areas or nearby islands.
In late October, a bomb killed two people in a roadside eatery in Zamboanga.
Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf militants operate just across the strait on nearby Basilan island, from where they often carry out kidnappings and bomb attacks. -- reports from RJ Rosalado, David Santos and Jewel Reyes, ABS-CBN Zamboanga City; and Zandro Ochona, dzMM; with Agence France-Presse