MANILA, Philippines (AP) -- A raging fire that broke out as workers slept in a clothing store in the Philippines has killed 17 employees, most of them women, who were trapped on the third floor.
Authorities say the fire in a city about 500 miles southeast of Manila raged for five hours.
Three store employees escaped with minor burns.
Many stores in the Philippines allow their employees to sleep over, especially those with faraway homes.
Relatives and friends, most of them in shock and tears, gathered in search of loved ones in front of the building, where police stood before body bags with the victims' remains.
Officials say investigators are trying to determine what sparked the fire and if the owners violated fire regulations.
A lack of firefighting equipment and personnel coupled with safety violations has resulted in major fire disasters in the Philippines.