Water from sprinkler causes Ayala Cebu cinema ceiling collapse

Dale G. Israel
Water from sprinkler causes Ayala Cebu cinema ceiling collapse
Initial findings show 'the sprinkler system released water that caused the acoustic boards to fall,' says Ayala Center Cebu's spokesperson of the incident that injured 9

CEBU CITY, Philippines – A problem with the sprinkler system was to blame for the collapse of the ceiling at the Ayala Center Cebu Cinema 5 that injured 9 persons on Monday night, June 15.

Ayala Center Cebu corporate communications officer Jeanette Japson told Rappler on Tuesday, June 16, that the mall management’s initial investigation found out that the sprinkler released water, which caused the ceiling’s acoustic boards to drop.

“We regret that such incident happened. Based on initial findings, the sprinkler system released water that caused the acoustic boards to fall. We are further investigating the case,” Japson said in a text message.

Japson said that the mall’s emergency team “immediately” responded to clear the area and evacuated those inside Cinema 5. She said that those who were affected were given immediate medical care.

Of the 6 injured who were brought to hospital, 5 are just awaiting clearance to be discharged, she said. Of the 9 persons who were wounded, 6 were brought to the hospital.

When ask about the safety of other portions of the mall’s expansion area, Japson said, “We assure the public that the safety of our customers continues to be a top priority in the mall and we are investigating to prevent recurrence of the incident.”

The Australia-based company Dreamscape International, which operates a Business Process Outsourcing firm at the Apple Tower One across Ayala Center Cebu within the Cebu Business Park, did not issue any additional statements Tuesday.

An operator from the firm said that their CEO, Mark Evans, was busy with several meetings related to the incident that happened at the Ayala mall.

Dreamscape held their corporate event at Cinema 5 with 350 people when the incident happened at around 8:50 pm Monday. Evans told Rappler in an interview Monday night that he was disappointed with the slow response of the mall management.

“There was water coming out of the ceiling, and then there was a bang, and the entire [roof] came down,” said Evans, whose suit was soaked and stained with mud. 

The CEO also sustained a wound between his thumb and index finger. The Australian said that he got back in the theater to help out his people who were still inside. 

He said it took the mall management 25 minutes to respond. “There were security personnel, but they did not know what to do. I was telling them to turn off the water, but no one knows how to turn the water off.”

He added: “It’s a miracle that we got out of there.”

Dreamscape Networks International in Cebu has 209 staff members and has been operating here for 3 years. During the corporate event at Cinema 5, Evans said that he had several Australian guests who were their advertisers. The event was for the re-launching and re-branding of their products. 

When Rappler went to the Ayala Center Cebu to check the incident Monday night, guards were all  over the site to cordon off the public. Mall workers were also scrubbing the floors for mud while others were wiping off flowing water at the corridors coming from the Cinema 5 entrance, where an open-air garden is also located. 

Various private and government rescue groups were also in the area, which is part of the Ayala Center Cebu expansion project that opened in 2014. Other portions of the mall were, however, not affected by what was happening at the Cinema 5. 

Cinema 5 is isolated from the 4 other theater facilities of the Ayala Center although all are located within the Fourth Level of the mall. Cinema 5 is also located near an open-air garden with water fountains, which is among the primary feature of the expansion project. The area is also filled with restaurants and bars that stay open beyond the regular mall hours of up to 10 pm. –

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