(Updated 9:18 p.m.) At least 42 people, most of then students, were hurt when violence blamed on warring fraternities marred the end of the Bar examinations at a university in Manila, a television report said on Sunday.
A GMA Flash Report late Sunday night said nine victims were brought to the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) while 15 were rushed to Ospital ng Maynila. The others were brought to private hospitals.
Nine of the injured were identified as Joanna Katrina Ledda, Arvin Francis Rosales, Philip Edwin Teelo, Gennilyn Ong, Cyril Ferrer, Kathleen Samba, Azenith Gonzalvo, Jamell Ann Marie and Renald Sudla.
The victims were hurt when an explosion rocked an area near the De La Salle campus in Taft Avenue where 5,012 law graduates just took the Bar examinations, perceived as the most difficult among licensure tests in the country.
The report said the violence erupted around 5 p.m.
Police said the explosion was so strong that its effect was felt even at the Light Railway Transit’s (LRT) station in Vito Cruz.
Sources told GMANews.TV the fraternities involved were Tau Gamma Phi and Alpha Kappa Rho.
It was not clear if the explosion was caused by a pillbox or pyrotechnics. Investigators are also verifying information that groups of men were seen hurling bottles at each other before the explosion occurred.
Bomb experts from the Manila Police District’s Explosive Ordnance Division rushed to the area and cordoned off the road where the blast occurred.
Some people in the area initially thought the loud sound was part of the pyrotechnics from law graduates celebrating the last day of the Bar examinations for this year.
MPD head Chief Superintendent Roberto Rongavilla was quoted in a “24 Oras" report as saying that they are looking at the discrepancies between the two accounts that could not be immediately reconciled.
In an interview with dzBB radio earlier, PO3 Clarmen Dimatulac of the MPD said only five people were hurt.
"Nakarinig po tayo ng malakas na pagsabog. Nag-panic ang mga tao, napansin natin na may nakahandusay na mga tao mukhang may tama. Lima. Di naman ito tataas ng walo o siyam," Dimatulac said.
(We heard a loud explosion earlier. The people panicked. We noticed five people lying on the ground. It couldn't have been more than eight or nine.)
A security guard in DLSU said there were many students from various schools in the area when the loud explosion was heard. A commotion followed the blast as students and bystanders scampered for safety.
Witnesses saw victims with blood oozing from their bodies.
Law graduates take the Bar examinations on all four Sundays of September at the DLSU campus.
A portion of Taft Avenue's southbound lane was earlier closed to traffic to accommodate hundreds of supporters of the examinees