Resorts World Manila: At least 36 bodies found at casino complex

At least 36 bodies have been recovered from a casino and hotel complex in the Philippine capital, Manila, where a lone gunman opened fire overnight.

Most of the dead suffocated in thick toxic smoke after the man set fire to casino tables, officials told the BBC.

The gunman, whose nationality is not yet known, began shooting in the casino in Resorts World Manila in the early hours of Friday morning.

Police said he later killed himself by setting himself on fire.

The incident sparked a security lockdown and authorities initially said there were no casualties, but appear to have only found the bodies while sweeping the complex after the gunman’s body was recovered.

Officials insisted that the incident was a robbery attempt, and was not terror-related despite an apparent claim by the so-called Islamic State group.

How did the attack unfold?

The man, who has yet to be named, entered the casino shortly after midnight and began firing an assault rifle, sparking widespread panic.

He did not appear to have been targeting patrons, and shot at television screens and the ceiling, according to the police and eyewitnesses.

He also set gaming tables on fire and filled a backpack with gambling chips worth 113m Philippine pesos (£1.7m, $ 2.3m).

The man later fled to the hotel section of the complex, leaving behind the backpack, and entered a hotel room.

“He lay down on the bed, covered himself with a thick blanket, apparently poured petrol on the blanket and burned himself,” national police chief Ronald Dela Rosa said on Friday.

The shooting sparked a security lockdown and a manhunt in the complex, which ended when his body was found.

Resorts World Manila said in a statement that the man also shot himself after setting himself on fire, and that he was found dead around 07:00 local time (23:00 Thursday GMT).

Who was the gunman?

Police officials say they suspect the man was a foreigner, although they have not confirmed his nationality.

They earlier had said the man was tall and appeared to resemble a Caucasian.

Police have released CCTV images of the man to local media, showing him dressed in black and carrying his rifle.

Authorities have also told reporters that the man appeared to be “mentally disturbed”. Resorts World Manila has called the casino shooting a “cowardly act of a deranged mind”.

How did so many people die?

Police and fire authority officials say that many people appeared to have suffocated from thick smoke caused by the fire.

Those who escaped the casino have said they saw smoke filling the complex.

One woman told AFP that she had received a call from her daughter as the attack happened. “Our daughter called us past midnight saying she was in the VIP section of the casino and there was smoke and they were suffocating,” Gil Yongco said.

Resorts World Manila chief operating officer Stephen Reilly has told reporters that the complex’s fire safety equipment worked, and that there was “proper ventilation”.

The victims were “overwhelmed with smoke when they sought shelter”, he said in comments reported by news outlet ABS-CBN.

More than 50 people have been sent to a hospital to be treated for injuries, including fractures.

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