Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Quezon City Slum fire

On Sunday, April 25, a fire broke out in a heavily populated shantytown in Quezon City, which is outside of Manila. Seven thousand residents were left homeless and many were injured. The fire spread quickly from high winds, summer heat, flammable liquids sold at stores catching fire, and flimsy building materials used in the slums burned quickly. There are lots of theories as to how the fires started. Kids playing with matches, faulty power lines, even conspiracy theories about arson. Due to squatters rights the local government cannot force the squatters to leave the slums unless fire or other disasters push them out. The media is now saying that it was likely illegal electrical wires that squatters run from home to home that sparked the initial fire. Whatever the reason, many families are left without anything after this terrible tragedy.

Sadly this story was more widely reported internationally than nationally. We heard about it on BBC and CNN. If local newspapers ran articles about the story, they were small and not headline news. The front page story of one local newspaper was about a celebrity hair stylist's endorsement of one of the presidential candidates. It's fairly clear where the people of the slums stand in the eyes of the Filipino media. Luckily there are many relief organizations coming to the aid of the displaced squatters. Pictures can be found here

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