Andanar: Initial reports say IED shrapnel were found in blast site
DAVAO CITY (6TH UPDATE) - A huge explosion rocked a busy night market Friday evening in Davao City, the hometown of President Rodrigo Duterte, killing at least 14 people and injuring more than 60 others, police and local officials said.
A statement from Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, released through the local government's official Facebook page, confirmed the initial 10 victims who died on the spot. Two other blast victims were reported dead at the South Philippines Medical Center.
A Davao City police report handed to President Rodrigo Duterte at a closed-door meeting with officials from concerned agencies raised the death toll to 14. It said 67 others were confirmed injured.
The cause of the explosion has yet to be determined.
"Right now, we cannot yet give definite answer to as to who is behind this as we are also trying to determine what really exploded," said Paolo, a son of President Duterte. "It's a sad day for Davao and for the Philippines."
The explosion happened at around 10 p.m., a time when many people flock to the popular night market in Roxas Avenue, according to Davao City police Insp. Katherine Dela Rey in an interview with DZMM.
Online images show emergency teams rushing people out of the night market, which was reopened only three weeks ago after being shut down, in wheelchairs and stretchers. Police have since cordoned off the area.
Members of Davao City 911, the Philippine Army, Explosive Ordnance Division (EOD) and Scene of the Crime Operations (SOCO) also arrived at the scene.
Police Regional Office 11 Director Chief Superintendent Manuel Gaerlan, in a statement, called for calm and asked people to refrain from "creating/passing misleading or unverified reports to avoid confusion and panic."
"The PNP is assuring the public that the situation is being handled carefully. A thorough investigation is being conducted to determine the cause of the explosion and checkpoints/chokepoints were already established at all exit points in the city. We call on all the people to be vigilant at all times and report to the police any suspicious packages or persons," said Gaerlan.
Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, quoting initial reports,
told ABS-CBN News that components of a suspected improved explosive device (IED) were found at the blast site in Davao City.
"Sa initial reports ay mayroong nakitang shrapnel from a mortar-based improvised explosive device," he said.
Andanar, however, said it is not yet confirmed if an IED indeed caused the explosion. "No. You can say na mayroong initial report na galing sa isang mortar-based na IED."
He added that Davao City has been placed on high alert.
Ateneo de Davao University, which is near the night market, has issued a lockdown and warned its students to avoid the area moments after the incident.
"To all the students and bystanders in the Roxas night market, please stay away from the area and give way to the ambulances and police," an announcement posted on the university's official Twitter account read.
Locals and tourists frequent the Roxas Night Market for bargain items and food. - with reports from Paul Palacio, Hernel Tocmo, and Jasper Magoncia, ABS-CBN News; DXAB