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Eyewitnesses describe chaos at the Manila resort attack

Police outside the casino Image copyright Getty Images

Eyewitnesses have described the chaos and panic at the casino complex in Manila where least 36 people died after a lone gunman stormed it on Thursday night.

Most of the dead suffocated in thick toxic smoke after the man set fire to casino tables, officials said, but most of the eyewitness accounts describe the events before the fire and its aftermath.

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Videos on social media showed people fleeing as several loud shots or explosions were heard.

People at the scene said they had seen an armed man with his face covered. Patrons at the casino tried to hide or escape the resort building in any way possible.

One eyewitness recounts there was a sudden commotion with people suddenly running towards his group.

"We were a few metres away from the gunman. He was indiscriminately firing upwards but he was not shooting anyone," he said in a video posted by a local reporter on Twitter.

He described gunman as "wearing a vest", adding that he couldn't determine what rifle the man was using.

Image copyright Twitter/@hsuhsieh

The first tweets from the resort itself describe the chaos at the scene with "people running and screaming".

Shortly afterwards, the same Twitter user posted that "vehicles are now prohibited to enter @rwmanila premises" and described how "scary" it was.

Most people at the scene and seeing the smoke over the hotel complex for a long time were not sure about what had happened, speculating about a possible terror attack.

Image copyright Twitter/lmroxregalado

According to the Reuters news agency, a casino employee told DZMM radio that he heard several gunshots and saw people running up the stairs from the second floor.

A maintenance worker from the casino told the same station that he saw a woman fall from an upper floor while trying to escape. "Several people were injured," he said.

Image copyright Twitter/@nicolesamartino

Local media have cited witnesses saying they hid in a VIP room on the second floor of the casino.

Others reportedly broke a window and used a curtain to climb down from the second floor of the building.

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