DAVAO CITY, Philippines — At least 28 people were reported missing when fire of still unknown origin gutted one of the city’ prime mall, the New City Commercial Center (NCCC) Mall at the corner of Maa and MacArthur Highway here.
Some reports however indicated, there are 23 persons missing.
The exact number of missing persons has yet to be determined as fire authorities have yet to get the exact number of employees trapped.
The count was based on the number of families looking for their loved one’s working at the call center.
The massive fire hit the mall at about 9:30 in the morning just before it opens.
Senior Inspector Ma. Teresita Gaspan, the spokesperson of Davao City Police Office said the fire started at the third floor particularly at the furniture section going to the fourth floor going
to the SSC call center office.”
Firefighters and personnel from the 911 Emergency Service are now conducting search and rescue operations inside the mall until midnight December 23 in the hope of rescuing the 29
trapped employees mostly working as call center agents of SSI.
Rescuers tried to rescue some employees of SSI, a BPO company who were trapped at the fourth floor of the mall.
Gaspan said firefighters from several fire stations in the city responded and battled the flames as paramedics from the 911 Emergency Service conducted search and rescue operations inside the mall.
Hours after the blaze begun, rescuers were able to get six people out, she said.
Rushed to the hospitals for unspecified injuries were Reggen Ombain, 20; Jireh Duterte, 28; Ednard Gumela, 21; Dexter Gonzaga, 27; Ereneo Sabas Jr., 23; and Jose Banilad, 46.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday met with the families of workers trapped inside a burning mall in Maa, Davao City.
Reporters were not allowed to cover during the dialogue with the families of the missing workers.
As of 10 p.m., fire officials have yet to extinguish the blaze.
Davao City Archbishop Romulo Valles and several priests and nuns were present to offer prayers for the trapped employees.
The management of the mall in a statement said “It is unfortunate that we confirm that there was a fire at the 3rd floor of NCCC Mall Department Store. The BFP has the situation under
control and we are still verifying the extent of the incident. We are currently coordinating with the authorities. However, there are no reported casualties.”
On November 2, 2017, Sharlene Faye Lim, LTS Malls Inc. president, announced that they are set to renovate the NCCC Mall of Davao next year saying “This is going to be a big project as there
will be a total renovation and expansion.”
Employees who escaped the fire told reporters they ran to the two emergency exit doors but the other door could not longer be used as smoke thickened.
The employees said the sprinkler inside their office was no working which could have helped them when the fire broke off.
While firefighters took turns in receding the fire, employees of the nearby S & R membership shopping served them pizza.
Fire officials has yet to establish the extend of damage as rescue operations is ongoing.-Editha Z. Caduaya/Newsline.ph