Manila: The toll in the fire on Wednesday at a footwear factory in Valenzuela municipality, in the Philippines capital Manila, has risen to 72, Interior Minister Mar Roxas said on Thursday.

The minister visited the gutted factory on Thursday morning and said the number of casualties could rise further as some people are still missing, Rappler news network confirmed.

Most victims were found on the second floor, to where workers were believed have rushed to escape the fire, according to Sergio Soriano of the fire department, The Star newspaper reported.

The blaze which took seven hours to be extinguished began when sparks from welding equipment used to repair a broken gate ignited flammable chemicals in nearby barrels.

Authorities are yet to determine the exact number of people present in the factory at the time the fire broke out.

Parts of the building remained inaccessible until early Thursday.

The interior minister announced financial compensation for the families of the victims and a rigorous investigation to determine responsibility for the accident.

Bureau of Fire Protection officials told the media on Thursday that they would investigate if the facility had official certification and had complied with safety regulations.

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