THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

1 girl is killed, 4,000 others displaced as fast-moving fire rips through Manila slum

Residents sifted through the ashes at the Baseco Compound in Manila after a fire burned out 500 shanties Saturday night. Residents sifted through the ashes at the Baseco Compound in Manila after a fire burned out 500 shanties Saturday night. (Bullit Marquez/ Associated Press)
Associated Press / January 18, 2010

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MANILA - Fire raced through a slum near the main port in the Philippine capital, leaving 4,000 people homeless and killing a 5-year-old girl, an official said yesterday.

The Saturday night blaze burned out 500 shanties, which were packed together in a crowded slum along the rim of Manila Bay, some housing two or three families. There were no other reports of deaths or major injuries at the Baseco Compound, said Emmanuel Gaspar, a senior fire official.

The 130-acre compound that used to house a shipyard has been ravaged by huge fires before. A 2002 blaze left some 15,000 residents homeless, and a 2004 fire razed shanties of 25,000 people. Tight living conditions at Baseco and other slums allow flames to quickly spread through houses made of light materials.

The cause of the fire, which raged for two hours, is still under investigation, Gaspar said.

Gwendolyn Pang, a Philippine National Red Cross official, said victims were being housed in two evacuation centers within the compound.

Thelsa Biolena, the Social Welfare Department’s regional director, said porridge and boxes of noodles for hot soup were distributed to the victims, and more food packs will be distributed today. The Red Cross will also send food today, Pang said.