Screams pierced the air as shocked rescue workers came upon men and women without arms and legs moments after a bomb wrecked a suburban train in Manila yesterday, one of five that exploded in the Philippines capital.

The blasts were the first in the metropolis of 10 million people since May, when explosions hit two shopping malls in Makati and eastern Manila, killing one person and leaving 30 others injured.

So powerful was the blast that what appeared to be the limbs of a child were hurled yards away from where the lifeless body of the young victim lay, witnesses said. One of the seriously wounded survivors, Annabel Umali, 35, received shrapnel wounds to her back and left leg as she shielded her children, aged 3, 4, and 5. "It was like an earthquake," she recounted. "I thought I was going to die."

The roof of the train was blown a metre and a half away. An eyewitness said that there was total pandemonium when several hundred commuters in the coach, toppling over each other, made a desperate bid for survival even as the train was moving. "A dismembered leg found its way into the large hole created by the bomb at the centre of the rail track," said the eyewitness.

"This is the work of animals, people without souls," said Manila Mayor Lito Atienza in a radio interview. "They have no compunction about killing innocent civilians." Four bodies lay under newspaper sheets. Near them lay grocery bags ripped into shreds. Bits of food were strewn around along with shoes and slippers abandoned in panic by their owners. Police officers stood over the scene looking stunned. A few managed to mumble incoherent messages into their cell phones.

A second bomb went off on an Edsan Liner bus, killing one woman instantly. The bus was approaching an elevated sky-way at EDSA, a main thoroughfare, fifteen minutes after noon. "It was a good thing the bomb flew out of the bus when the roof gave way," said the bus driver. The police confirmed that fifteen others were injured in the incident.

Twenty-seven minutes past noon, another explosion went off at Plaza Ferguson, in front of the US Embassy along Roxas Boulevard, injuring three people. Eighteen minutes later, three people caught the full blast of a bomb as it went off at the inner fence of the container terminal of Pasay City's Ninoy Aquino International Airport. All three died instantly, and six others were injured.

The victims, all employees of Centennial Air, were picking up their cargo when the explosion took place, said Customs Commissioner Renato Ampil. He said that an old model car, believed to be carrying the bombs, tried to get near the aviation tank at the airport, but succeeded only in getting up to the container area.

A policeman, identified as Roberto Gutierrez, was instantly killed when he failed to defuse a bomb that he brought out from the crowded Dusit Hotel across an empty lot near the Petron gas station, at the entrance of the posh Dasmarinas Village at 2.45 p.m. Bomb disposal units also went to Landmark Mall to confirm reports of suspicious looking packages that might contain bombs.