Deadly Philippine blast likely gas leak

A powerful explosion in a high-end apartment complex in the Philippine capital that killed three people was likely caused by a gas leak and not a bomb as initially feared, the government said Friday.

Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said investigators found no sign of explosives at the blast site in the fifth floor of the condominium on May 31, adding that the incident had all the characteristics of a gas explosion.

"The explosion was not caused by a bomb. That is the first conclusion. We are saying this is likely a gas explosion," he told reporters.

The blast in an up-scale residential area of Manila know as "the Fort" blew the wall of the apartment out, hurling a concrete slab more than 30 metres (100 feet) across a street where it fatally crushed three people in a passing van.

The explosion, which took place near a row of popular nightspots, also injured at least five other people.

Roxas said different investigating agencies could find no explosive residue, bomb fragments or blast crater, all characteristics of a bomb blast.

Investigators also looked into the background of the people occupying the affected unit at the time and did not find anything abnormal, he added.

"This explosion was consistent with gas and most likely LPG," Roxas said, referring to liquefied petroleum gas which is widely used in cooking.

He said it was not clear how the flammable gas leaked out from the building's piping system or how it was set off.

He also would not comment on who might be held liable for the the blast.

This is the second deadly explosion in recent years in a property of leading Philippine real estate firm, Ayala Land.

In October 2007, a powerful explosion in Ayala's flagship shopping mall killed 11 people. Officials initially said it was a bomb but investigators later blamed it on methane in the mall's sewage system.