DAVAO CITY, Philippines (2ND UPDATE) – More than 10 people are still missing after a fire broke out in a shopping mall in Davao City on Saturday morning, December 23.
The Davao City Police Office said the fire started around 9:30 am at the third floor of the NCCC Mall of Davao.
The police said there were employees trapped inside a business process outsourcing (BPO) office inside the mall. Firefighters and 911 rescuers conducted search and retrieval operations.
Witnesses of the incident include Phoebe Jumalon, 23, an employee of Survey Samping International (SSI) Philippines Inc at the fourth floor of the mall.
Jumalon said smoke started to enter the office, and employees were unable to take the fire exit as “the smoke there was suffocating.” She reported for work at 5:45 am.
“Someone shouted that we run to the lobby, and that’s what we did,” she said. She left her P6,000 cash at her work area.
Outside the Abiva Building located in front of the mall along MacArthur Highway, dozens of troubled call center employees like Jumalon were awaiting updates about some of their colleagues. Some of them were crying.
SSI Philippines is a subsidiary of the US-based SSI International which also operates in Cebu.
Meanwhile in Davao City, its employees reported that several of their colleagues are still missing.
A human resource (HR) manager of the company, who requested anonymity, said they have counted 30 of their employees were unaccounted for when the fire broke out.
The manager clarified in an interview that they sent out a company nurse to monitor whether they have employees taken to the hospital. She said there were none.
Earlier, she reported that 10 of their missing employees were taken to the Southern Philippines Medical Center, while a still undetermined number of employees were also taken to a private hospital.
“There was one who went to a private hospital due to asthma attack but the employee was not included on our list of missing personnel,” she said.
SSI Philippines has yet to come out with official numbers of people affected by the fire.
Meanwhile, the manager who supervises at least 400 personnel, said those included in the missing list came from four out of their seven teams. She gave four names of teams: Wire 1, Wire 2, Wire 3 and Wire 5.
The team members include admin supervisors, QA manager, team manager, agents and maintenance staff, she said.
Meanwhile, the NCCC Mall said there were six people who were rushed to the SPMC. “Five are already discharged,” it said.
In a statement, the NCCC Mall said the fire was “unfortunate.”
“The BFP has the situation under control and we are still verifying the extent of the incident. We are currently coordinating with the authorities, ” it added. (Zea Correa-Capistrano & Mick Basa / davaotoday.com)Davao City Fire, NCCC fire, NCCC Mall