At least 34 people are dead after a gunman burst into a Manila casino, firing shots and setting gaming tables alight, Philippine media reported on Friday, in what officials said was a botched robbery attempt, APA reports quoting Reuters.
Police said the unidentified gunman had killed himself after firing at armed officers searching the still-smoking Resorts World Manila entertainment complex hours after the drama that began shortly after midnight (1600 GMT).
Many of the dead suffocated in the chaos as guests and staff tried to flee choking smoke at the complex, according to a report by ANC News channel, quoting Bureau of Fire Protection sources.
Resort owner Travellers International Hotel Group Inc said authorities were still seeking details.
"We have been informed of several casualties, the number and identities of whom have yet to be determined," it said in a statement. Its shares were down 7 percent.
Around dawn, the body of the suspected gunman was found in a hotel room in the complex, which is close to Ninoy Aquino International Airport and an air force base, police said.
"He burned himself inside the hotel room 510," national police chief Ronald dela Rosa told a media conference. "He lay down on the bed, covered himself in a thick blanket and apparently doused himself in gasoline."
The bodies of two of the victims had been taken to the Veronica funeral parlor, staff member Leni Domingo told Reuters.
Officials said at least 54 people were hurt, some seriously, as they rushed to escape what at first had been feared as a militant attack.
Dela Rosa told DZMM radio the lone gunman had not aimed his assault rifle at people and may have been trying to steal casino chips.
"Don't panic, this is not a cause for alarm. We cannot attribute this to terrorism," dela Rosa said.
"We are looking into a robbery angle because he did not hurt any people and went straight to the casino chips storage room. He parked at the second floor and barged into the casino, shooting large TV screens and poured gasoline on a table setting it on fire," he said.
Police said the gunman was tall with a pale complexion and spoke English.