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6 hurt as cinema ceiling collapses in Ayala mall in Cebu City

11:03 PM June 15, 2015

CEBU CITY, Philippines—At least six persons were hurt when a portion of the ceiling of a cinema inside Ayala Center Cebu here collapsed during a launching event of a business process outsourcing (BPO) company about 8:50 p.m. on Monday.

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At least 350 people were attending the launching event and team building of Dreamscape Networks inside Cinema 5 when water suddenly poured from the ceiling, said employee Carlo Florentino.

“I thought it was raining. But after a minute, the ceiling collapsed,” Florentino told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

He said at least three-fourths of the ceiling gave in.

Jeanette Japzon, corporate communications manager of Cebu Holdings Inc. (CHI), which owns Ayala Center Cebu, said at least six persons were hurt but only one was taken to the hospital.

The rest had wounds either in the hand or shoulder. Another was treated for hyperventilation, said Japson.

She said that they had yet to investigate the cause of the collapse.

“As of the moment, our priority is to ensure the safety of those who were present,” Japson said.

Mark Evans, chief executive officer  of Dreamwork Networks, said they were still verifying the number of people who were injured.

“I’m not sure how many were injured,” said Evans who sustained a scratch on his finger.

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“We want to make sure our people are safe. This was supposed to be a night of fun. And this is what happens,” Evans said in an interview.
Some suffered bruises. At least two persons were lying on the stretchers when taken by paramedics to a nearby hospital.

Cinema 5, which opened in December 2013, was the newest among the five theaters inside Ayala Center Cebu located at Cebu Business Park, a financial and commercial district here.

Gorgio Bernardo Visitacion said he was inside the toilet outside the cinema when he heard people screaming.

He said he went out of the toilet and then saw people rushing out of the cinema, most of them wet and covered with cement dust.

A one-minute and one-second video posted by Alexis Yap on Facebook showed people moving down from upper seats to avoid the water from the ceiling.

When the downpour started to get stronger, the ceiling at the back portion of the cinema gave in.

Screams could be heard in the video, which already had 5,568 views at 10:18 p.m., an hour after it was posted on Facebook.

Evans, an Australian, was visibly dismayed over what happened and vowed to file charges against Ayala.

“The emergency response was zero. It was so embarrassing. No one knew what to do. So we began to pull people. The steel frames were all over,” he said. He said mall security  guards came 25 minutes after the ceiling collapsed.

Japzon said that since it was a private screening, there was only one guard at the entrance while another was roving.

She, however, assured the public that the management would look into the complaint that it took 25 minutes before the guards responded to the emergency.

Japzon said the part that collapsed was the “acoustic ceiling.”

“It’s actually a ceiling, but the material is not cement, it’s not cement,” she said.

Various rescue units, including those from the Bureau of Fire Protection, were still at the scene as of Monday night, while investigation was underway to determine what caused the collapse, Japzon said.

Movie screenings in other cinemas were “not affected,” she said.–With reports from Doris C. Bongcac and Carmel Loise Matus, Inquirer Visayas

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