Today in Philippine history, May 16, 1998, a fire swept through the Lung Center of the Philippines killing 25 people

Saturday May 14, 2016 ()

Lung center before the fire
(The Lung Center of the Philippines before the fire)

On May 16, 1998, a fire that lasted 13 hours and killed 25 people, swept through the Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City, engulfing much of the hospital in thick smoke and flames. The flames also spread to a ward of the adjoining National Kidney and Transplant Institute, forcing an evacuation of that hospital as well.

Most of those killed were patients trapped in the surgical and medical intensive care units.

Today in Philippine history,  May 16, 1998, a fire swept through the Lung Center of the Philippines killing 25 people

Lung Center head of medical services Fernando Melendrez said firefighters were trying to reach the intensive care units but were blocked by heavy smoke, heat and burning debris.

A total of 170 patients and an undetermined number of relatives were in the three-story hospital when the fire broke out.

At the kidney institute, flames and smoke forced the evacuation of 54 of the 123 patients to a parking lot, some with intravenous lines still dangling from their arms. The remaining patients were taken to the lobby. At least five patients jumped from the second floor to a palm tree and slid down to safety.

The fire destroyed records of the hospital and property damage amounting to about P700 million.

Many hospital personnel said the fire was intended to save powerful people from a government audit being conducted weeks before the fire. They offered no proof beyond citing inconsistencies in the investigation of the incident and the circumstances that preceded it.

Fire investigators declared the fire an accident.

The Lung Center of the Philippines was completed in 1982 under the direction of former first lady Imelda Marcos.

Sources:

  1. Fire burns Philippine hospital, Oliver Teves, Associated Press, May 16, 1998
  2. A Hospital on Fire, News Break Archives, October 27, 2002
  3. Lung Center of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos (imelda.mybcnet.net)
  4. Photo credit: Lung Center of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos


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