The fire ripped through the shopping mall in the southern Philippine city of Davao and is still reported not fully under control

The fire in the four-storey NCCC Mall in the southern Philippine city of Davao was still going before dawn on Sunday morning, officials said. December 23, 2017
The fire in the four-storey NCCC Mall in the southern Philippine city of Davao was still going before dawn on Sunday morning, officials said. December 23, 2017 (AP)

Thirty-seven people were believed to have been killed in a fire that engulfed a shopping mall in the southern Philippine city of Davao, a local government official said on Sunday.

The chief fire officer at the scene said the chances of the 37 people surviving were "zero".

The blaze started at the four-storey NCCC Mall on Saturday morning as people went about their shopping. The blaze trapped scores of people including call centre staff on the top floor, Ralph Canoy, a police officer in the district said.

Canoy added that the fire was still not fully under control on Sunday morning.

"The fire started on the third floor, which houses products like fabrics, wooden furniture and plastic ware, so the fire quickly spread and it's taking a long time to put out," he said.

He said investigators believed some of those likely killed had been trapped in the call centre, which operated 24 hours a day.

"It's possible that while they were working, they did not immediately notice the fire spreading," Canoy said of the call centre workers.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who served as mayor of Davao for about two decades and continues to live in the city, visited the mall on Saturday night to comfort relatives of the victims, one of his aides told AFP.

Davao is the biggest city in the southern Philippines. It is 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) south of Manila.

Source: AFP