updated 12/25/2006 9:59:10 PM ET 2006-12-26T02:59:10

At least 24 people died in a fire that engulfed a one-story department store in the central Philippines on Christmas Day, police said Tuesday.

The charred remains of the 24 victims were found inside a bathroom, where they tried to escape from the blaze, said Chief Superintendent Eliseo dela Paz. At least five people were injured, two of them critically, police said.

He said the fire started from firecrackers and pyrotechnics that ignited near the entrance door of the Unitop Commercial store.

The fire swept through the store in Ormoc city, 340 miles southeast of Manila, acting provincial police director Senior Superintendent Manuel Cobillo said. Customers, vendors and store employees were among those killed.

A TV station reported the store did not have a permit to sell firecrackers, and Cobillo said emergency exits were locked.

Police were looking for the owner, he said.

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