TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- At least 37 people are feared dead, more than a day after fire broke out at the biggest shopping mall of Davao city in southern Philippines.
According to local media, firefighters were still unable to enter the building as of Sunday morning, with at least 37 people still trapped inside.
The city's vice mayor Paolo Duterte said their chances of survival are "zero."
"Our firemen are still trying to find a way into the building as the fire is still burning," said Mr. Duterte in his Facebook post.
The blaze started at the four story NCCC Mall on Saturday morning. Many were trapped inside including employees of a call center located at the top floors of the mall.
"The fire started on the third floor, which houses products like fabrics, wooden furniture and plastic ware, so the fire quickly spread and it's taking a long time to put out," said Ralph Canoy, a police officer in the district, as reported by local media.
The cause of fire still remains unknown; it is believed that the fire first started at a furniture store in the building's third floor.
The fire took place when the city officials and other emergency relief organizations were busy attending to the victims of flash floods in other parts of the city. More than 100 have been killed in the flooding.
At this time, security officials are on high alert as the authorities fear the Islamic State militants may take advantage of the vulnerable situation and could target malls and other public areas to create more chaos. Earlier in September this year, the militants who sore allegiance to the Islamic State bombed a night market in Davao city killing 15 people.
The President Rodrigo Duterte made an unannounced visit to the mall to visit the families of the victims on Saturday evening and assured the relatives of the victims that the government would extend all the help needed.