MANILA, Philippines – Two malfunctioning equipment triggered panic and chaos among shoppers at a large mall in Mandaluyong City as they were completing their last-minute shopping during the final day of a weekend sale on Sunday evening.
Mandaluyong Police chief Senior Superintendent Fernando Quibayen said that two separate incidents involving a malfunctioning fluorescent lamp and an overloaded siomai (pork dumplings) steamer in SM Megamall sent people fleeing Buildings B and A, respectively.
Quibuyen said the first reported incident was a siomai steamer operated by a tenant in the mall’s food court located in the basement of Building A.
This was confirmed by SM Supermalls in a tweet.
“Around 7:25pm,a siomai steamer at SM Food Court in SM Megamall short circuited, caused people to file out,” SM Supermalls, through their Twitter account @SMsupermalls, tweeted.
The short circuiting caused the steamer to emit smoke and a loud sound, which “caused some customers to panic and run out,” Quibuyen said, quoting a report by the mall’s security.
About 30 minutes later, a fluorescent lamp burst and fell from the fourth floor of Building B in SM Megamall.
“We received reports that there was a lighting fixture which exploded and which fell from the fourth floor of the mall’s Building B,” Senior Police Officer 1 Ignacio Malabanan of the Mandaluyong Police’s Tactical Operation Center said in a telephone interview.
But the mall’s management has yet to confirm this report.
The Mandaluyong Police noted that the incident was reported to them at around 7:45 p.m.
Police have already rushed to the scene for an investigation, but have dismissed reports that there was a shooting incident in the mall.
SM Supermalls also tweeted that operations were back to normal in the mall about 8 p.m.
There has been no injuries reported from the incident yet, but a radio report said an unidentified woman at the bus loading area of the mall was injured when she was felled by people rushing out of the building.
The mall, which was hit by the Martilyo gang in a jewelry heist early this year, was on a lockdown for several minutes for security reason, reports said.
Media men covering the incident were barred from taking pictures and video footage, triggering angry exchanges between reporters and security guards.
Social networking sites became full of tweets of people who reportedly heard apparent gunshots earlier, causing panic.
“At Megamall, gunshots! Locked inside Yabu!!!” Joanna Ruaro (@joeyruaro) tweeted.
“Commotion here at Megamall. Akala nila may bombing. Scary,” Marjorie Jesura (@asooooonxD) tweeted.