MANILA—A fire at a hotel in Iraq’s Kurdistan region on Friday has killed 17 people, including 14 Filipinos, a Philippine Embassy official said.
“We have just been informed that 14 Filipinos were among the 17 people who died in a fire that struck a hotel in Erbil, capital of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, this evening,” said Elmer Cato, charge d’affaires of the Philippine Embassy in Baghdad.
“We will be taking the earliest flight tomorrow to allow us to coordinate closely with authorities of the Kurdistan Regional Government in identifying and repatriating the remains of our kababayans,” Cato added.
The incident, he said, is now under investigation.
“We would like to extend our deepest sympathy to the families of the victims and will do everything we can to bring them home as soon as possible,” Cato said.
In 2012, the Philippine government lifted the ban on Kurdistan region—an autonomous region in Iraq—amid growing foreign labor demand, but deployment ban is being enforced by Manila in other parts of the country.
Except for Kurdistan, Manila is imposing mandatory repatriation for Filipino workers living and working in other parts of Iraq, including capital Baghdad, due to the volatile security environment in the country.
Manila has also banned the deployment of new workers to Iraq because of the prevailing security situation.
The Philippine government has repeatedly cautioned Filipinos in Iraq to exercise extreme caution and to limit their movements due to bombings and other violent incidents in the past months.
They are also being urged to register with the embassy so that they could easily be contacted in case of emergency.