14 Filipinos killed in Iraq hotel blaze
Fourteen Filipinos were among the 19 people killed in a fire that struck Capitol Hotel in Erbil in northern Iraq on Friday night, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) confirmed yesterday.
Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said Kurdistan authorities informed the Philippine embassy in Baghdad about the fatalities, who are yet to be identified.
Charge d’Affaires Elmer Cato of the Philippine embassy in Baghdad is going to Erbil to coordinate with authorities of the Kurdistan regional government to identify and repatriate the remains of the 14 Filipinos.
Three Iraqis, a Palestinian and another person of unknown nationality also died in the fire, according to Saman Barzanji, director general of the Erbil health department.
Cato said the victims were mostly employees at Capitol Hotel.
The fire hit the four-star Capitol Hotel where rooms cost from $100 to $240 per night.
The hotel’s website says it has a 740-square-meter spa that includes saunas and a pool.
Photos and video posted on social media showed dark grey smoke pouring from windows on the top floor of the building.
“The incident is now under investigation. We would like to extend our deepest sympathy to the families of the victims and will do everything we can to bring them home as soon as possible,” Cato said.
Malacañang expressed sadness yesterday over the deaths of 14 Filipinos in Capitol Hotel.
“We are very sad about this. It’s a terrible way to die. They were many and it was, I believe, in a massage center,” Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office said yesterday over dzRB.
“We would like to get more details and do everything that is possible to bring our countrymen home and to look at every possibility to assist their families at this time of sadness and need,” he added.
Vice Presidential candidate Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the DFA should “do everything possible to repatriate the remains of the deceased overseas Filipino workers the soonest time.”
He also urged the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration to fast track the release of benefits and assistance due to the 14 OFWs.
Marcos has been pushing for better government support for OFWs in recognition of their contribution to the economy, which has been buoyed in large part by their remittances.
– With Aurea Calica, Marvin Sy, AFP