15 Confirmed Dead in Philippines Hotel Fire

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Updated 8:05 a.m. ET

A fire tore through a budget hotel as guests slept early Sunday in the northern Philippines.

CBS News' Barnaby Lo reports that police have found 15 bodies on the top two floors of the Sunshine Bed and Breakfast Pension House.

The fire started on the ground floor of the five-story hotel in Cagayan province's capital of Tuguegarao city and raged for more than four hours before being put out by fire, provincial police chief Mao Aplasca said.

At least 12 nursing students were taken to hospitals with minor burns.

Many of the guests were nursing students from nearby provinces who planned to take a licensing exam in Tuguegarao, about 215 miles north of Manila, on Sunday.

"Most of them were sleeping and they may have panicked when they saw the fire," Aplasca told The Associated Press by telephone from the scene, adding the missing may have been trapped in the smoldering building or managed to run to safety.

The mother of one of the survivors told local network GMA News that her daughter called her up and said that the fire exits were locked and the fire extinguishers were not working.

An investigation is still under way as to what caused the fire.