A POWERFUL blast has killed at least three people and wounded 27 others in a budget hotel packed with wedding guests in the southern Philippines.
The explosion, suspected to have been caused by a bomb, ignited a fire that gutted the two-storey Atilano Pension House in downtown Zamboanga city today.
The blast was so powerful it caused much of the second floor to collapse, blew off the hotel roof and shattered glass panes and windows from nearby buildings, Zamboanga city Mayor Celso Lobregat said today.
Two of the wounded were in serious condition in a hospital, he said.
Zamboanga city, a predominantly Christian trading hub about 900km south of Manila, is located in a volatile region long troubled by a decades-long Muslim insurgency, extortion gangs and kidnap for ransom syndicates.
The blast occurred in a room on the second floor of the hotel, instantly killing two people staying in two adjacent rooms, which were devastated by the blast.
A third body was found today on the ground floor, pinned by the cement slabs that collapsed from above.
Initial investigation pointed to a bomb, Lobregat said, adding that he had asked Zamboanga residents to stay calm.
Many of the victims were from a group of about 20 people, who occupied six of the hotel's 35 rooms for a wedding today.
The tragedy has forced the wedding to be postponed, he said.
Senior Inspector Cesar Memoracion said his local bomb squad recently informed the hotel owner to be on guard for a possible bomb attack, citing intelligence, which did not identify the source of the threat.
In January 2000, the hotel was rocked by a blast that killed three suspected Muslim militants assembling a bomb in a room, officials said.
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just in case the US press dont carry it like any of the past ones 499 bombs this year in the PI
waiting for 500..