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Burnt mall not done telling tragic story

Human skeletal remains found in ruins of NCCC Mall, where 38 people died in December 2017 fire
/ 05:12 AM July 14, 2018

DAVAO TRAGEDY Firemen battle with the blaze gobbling up New City Commercial Center (NCCC) Mall in December last year. —BARRY OHAYLAN

DAVAO CITY—The ruins of a mall here gutted by one of the country’s deadliest fires six months ago weren’t done telling the mall’s tragic story.

Skeletal human remains were found by workers demolishing what was left of New City Commercial Center (NCCC) Mall on Wednesday six months after the fire that killed nearly 40 people.

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The remains were found in a room at the once landmark mall, according to officials on Thursday.

Workers of the contractor clearing debris in the mall site, at the village of Ma-a in this city, collected the bones and bone fragments that were handed over to police forensics experts for further examination, said Senior Supt. Wilberto Rico Neil Kwan Tiu, Southern Mindanao director of the Bureau of Fire Protection.

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Skull

Among the remains was a skull, which workers found while clearing what used to be the location of a storage room on the ill-fated mall’s third floor, said Chief Insp. Bernalita Silagan, Davao City fire marshal.

Workers found the bones and skull scattered in the area where there used to be a room storing kitchenware, Silagan said in a phone interview.

The workers placed the remains in a box and handed these over to police, Silagan said.

Silagan said the bones were now being examined by a Scene of the Crime Operation, or police forensics, team.

Silagan said city police had submitted a report about the grisly find to the Interagency Task Force (IATF), a multiagency investigating body that looked into the deadly fire.

 

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All accounted for?

The area where the bones were found had collapsed after the fire, Silagan said.

Fire investigators said the blaze started at the furniture section of the mall’s third floor and quickly spread to the fourth floor, where bodies of most of the fatalities—workers of American call center firm Survey Sampling International—were recovered.

The fire damaged the mall’s second floor and portions of the ground floor.

The IATF, in a report last month, said at least 38 people died in the tragedy and all bodies had been accounted for.

The investigating body recommended criminal and other charges against more than 30 persons for criminal negligence and other lapses that made the fire deadly.

These included the mall owners, former and current city fire officials, a former city building official and representatives of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority. —FRINSTON LIM

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TAGS: Davao, Fire, NCCC, remains
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