MANILA - A digital data collection company confirmed the deaths of 37 employees in a fire that engulfed a Davao City mall last Saturday.
In a statement released on Christmas eve, Research Now SSI company offered its condolences to the families of the victims and said it would help support funeral arrangements.
"It is with deep sadness that we confirm that 37 Research Now SSI employees were lost in the fire that struck the NCCC mall in Davao City, Philippines, where the company employs 500 in its local call center operation," the company said.
Gary Laben, CEO of Research Now SSI, added: "This terrible tragedy has left us with heavy hearts. We offer our condolences and prayers to the families and loved ones of the victims."
“Words cannot express how saddened we are. We are grateful for the courageous response of the first responders and others who rushed to the scene,” he added.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday night visited the mall and comforted relatives of the 37 people trapped.
The President was later seen weeping after the families were told that their loved ones had a "zero" chance of surviving the blaze that hit NCCC Mall Saturday.
Research Now said it has also arranged counseling for its employees and will create a fund for contributions to provide further assistance to the victims' families.
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte on Sunday said the body of one of the victims has been retrieved, and ordered fire officers to continue search operations until all are found.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre had ordered a probe into the deadly blaze to determine the "criminal culpability of those responsible."