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8 dead after Christmas Day fires in Philippines

MANILA — At least eight people were killed in two Christmas Day fires near Manila, the Philippine capital, officials said. One of the blazes left about 1,500 people homeless when it razed their shantytown.

Arson investigator Rosendo Cabillan said a predawn fire Tuesday razed two apartment buildings in Quezon City, a Manila suburb. A veterinarian and six household members died after they were trapped inside.

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Fire officer Noel Binwag said another blaze in suburban San Juan hours earlier destroyed shanties occupied by about 1,500 people.

Binwag said angry residents beat a man to death after accusing him of starting the fire.

He said two firefighters also were injured when they were hit by rocks by some residents who grabbed their fire hoses to put out the blaze themselves.

Officials said San Juan residents who clashed with firefighters were frustrated by what they called a slow response.

Protesters threatened firefighters with guns and threw stones at the fire engines, according to local news reports.

San Juan Fire Chief Santiago Laguna said firetrucks had difficulty entering narrow streets that were blocked by cars and wagons.

Firefighters were dragging hoses down the alleys when they were attacked, he said.

Millions of Filipinos live in shanty towns across Manila, where housing is vulnerable to fires and natural disasters because of crowding and poor construction.

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