Manila (AsiaNews/agencies)- More than 300 houses were on fire yesterday, Thursday, July 11, in a slum on the outskirts of Manila. The flames, which have not resulted in casualties, erupted in the area of Botanical Green and have destroyed at least one-third of 1000 homes that make up the slum.
"We were lying down in our beds when people started shouting and running - recounted the 27 year old Anna Anciller while holding her 6-year-old son - there were flames everywhere, we fled but we couldn't save anything". Police and firefighters involved in rescue operations had to prevent the inhabitants from returning amid the flames to save their few belongings that remained in their houses. In the confusion many children were separated from their parents.
According to early reports it appears that the fire that broke out yesterday in Botanical Green was caused by the explosion of a cooking gas cylinder. In the poorest neighborhoods, where houses are built with scrap materials and without any safety standards, it is not uncommon for flames to conflagrate easily.
A report drafted in 2010 by the World Health Organization finds that more than a third of the 14 million people who live in Manila's slums are amassed on the outskirts of the metropolis. The problem of degradation of the suburbs represents a cause for grave concern for local authorities, who repeatedly have attempted to promote the requalification of the slum by transferring part of the population towards the exterior.
This kind of initiative, however, have met with the firm opposition of the inhabitants, which very often want to stay on the outskirts of the city to enjoy greater career opportunities. "We can't go anywhere else - explains Jenny San Gaspar, 38 - who has lived in Botanical Green for many years - there is no work for us in the provinces". A few hours after the fire, some of the homeless people began to rebuild new makeshift houses alongside those which burned down in the flames.