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Dozens Die From Smoke in Philippines Casino Attack

Evacuated employees and guests of the hotel stand along a road and watch as smoke billows from a Resorts World building in Pasay City, Manila, Philippines, June 2, 2017.

A gunman stormed a casino in the Philippine capital and torched gambling tables in the crowded space, creating a choking level of smoke that killed at least 36 people, authorities said.

The gunman stuffed a backpack with casino chips before he fled but was found dead in an adjacent hotel early Friday of an apparent suicide.

Metropolitan Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde said the bodies were found in smoky rooms by firefighters and all died from suffocation and smoke inhalation. None had gunshot wounds.

The attack sent hundreds of people fleeing into the night outside the Resorts World Manila complex. Dozens had minor injuries suffered during the escape.

Police stressed there was no evidence to support claims of terrorism.

Authorities earlier said they think robbery was the motive. The English-speaking suspect took 113 million to 130 million pesos ($2 million) worth of gambling chips, which were found in the bag he was carrying and recovered.

The attack at the Resorts World Manila sent people panicking in the streets during the night. The hotel is located in Pasay, just south of the Philippines capital. Pictures posted on social media showed smoke pouring out of the building.

Armed police and rescue services were deployed at the scene. The hotel posted a note on Twitter that it was under lockdown and “working closely with the Philippine National Police to ensure that all guests and employees are safe.”

Though no one immediately claimed responsibility for the incident in Pasay, it came as the Philippine military has been battling Islamic State-linked militants in the southern city of Marawi.

In an appearance in the White House Rose Garden later Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump expressed concern. He said, “We’re closely monitoring the situation. ... It is really very sad as to what’s going on throughout the world with terror. Our thoughts and our prayers are with all of those affected.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.