A gunman burst into a casino at a resort complex in Manila early Friday, set fire to gambling tables and stuffed a bag with casino chips. He was later found dead in an apparent suicide in a hotel room. Local media reports said at least 34 died as a result of the fire.
Many of the dead suffocated in the chaos as guests and staff tried to flee choking smoke at the complex, A News channel reported, quoting Bureau of Fire Protection sources. The resort owners were still seeking details on the deaths, Reuters reported.
Earlier police said more than 70 people suffered mostly minor injuries in the stampede to escape. The only gunshot wound was to a guard at the complex, who accidentally shot himself when the suspect entered the room, the media reported, citing authorities.
The attack initially ignited fears of terrorism in the Philippine capital. Authorities later expressed doubt that it was terrorism-related.
After the hours-long attack at Resorts World Manila, Philippine National Police Chief Ronald Dela Rosa told reporters that a single gunman responsible for the assault used gasoline to set fire to gambling tables but did not fire at people.
“He would have shot all the people gambling there” if it had been terrorism, An agency quoted Dela Rosa as saying. “But he did not hurt anyone.”Police said the motive appeared to be robbery.
“It’s either he lost in the casino and wanted to recoup his losses or he went totally nuts,” Metropolitan Manila Police Chief Oscar Albayalde said, according to Agency reports.The attack sent hundreds of people fleeing into the night.
Philippine police, firetrucks and SWAT teams rushed to Resorts World, where witnesses initially reported seeing a masked gunman firing at guests on the second floor of a hotel.
An upper floor of a nearby mall was on fire, and photos circulating on social media showed plumes of smoke pouring out of the building. Video footage showed people running out of the hotel amid billowing smoke.
Dela Rosa said security footage showed the gunman ignoring a security guard who tried to question him at the entrance to the complex. He did not hurt the guard but went straight to the gambling area, Dela Rosa said.