Manila - Sixteen people were killed Monday in a fire that gutted 58 houses in a central Philippine city, police and fire officials said.
The fire occurred before dawn in a slum area in Bacolod City, Negros Oriental province, 520 kilometres south of Manila, city fire chief Pamela Rojane Candido said.
Candido said four of the fatalities were children. More than 3,000 people were left homeless by the fire, she added.
Initial investigation indicated that the fire might have been caused by an unattended candle at a wooden two-storey boarding house.
Fourteen of the victims were trapped on the second floor of the boarding house, while two more were found in nearby houses, police Chief Inspector Rico Santotome said.
Santotome said many of the burnt houses were made of light materials.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo expressed her sympathies to the victims of what is believed to be the worst fire incident in Bacolod City, deputy presidential spokesman Anthony Golez said.
"Right now the city disaster coordinating council is convening to find ways and means to quickly implement relief and assistance to the victims," he said.
The incident occurred as millions of Filipinos trooped to the cemeteries for All Saints Day, when many honour their dead. (dpa)