Fire investigators have identified safety failings that might have contributed to the deaths of 38 people in the recent Davao mall blaze.
A task force set up to investigate the devastating blaze on December 23 have concluded that the building did not meet the requirements for the enclosure of fire exits.
Jerry Candido of the Interagency Anti-Arson Task Force told The Philippine Star: “The establishment’s fire exit enclosures were not full, there were openings.
“If the fire exit was inside the building, the law requires that that must be enclosed to prevent the smoke from coming in.”
Investigators also suspect that the fire alarm system of the top-floor call centre SSI — where 37 of the victims perished — was “defective” and was not connected to the mall’s main system.
The mall’s owners have previously denied allegations of locked or nonexistent fire exits and insisted that fire alarms worked during the blaze.
Initial reports said the fire started at about 9.30am last Saturday on the third floor of the mall. It quickly took hold due to the amount of flammable products such as fabrics, wooden furniture and plastic ware.
The cause of the fire is yet to be determined.
Wilberto Kwan Tiu, director of Davao’s Bureau of Fire Protection, said the bodies recovered from the inferno could only be identified through DNA matching or by remains of clothing and jewellery.
The cause of death for all 38 victims was given as suffocation. As well as the thick, choking smoke, toxic chemicals such as cyanide and carbon monoxide were also released during the blaze.
President Duterte, who served as mayor of Davao for many years and continues to live in the city, recently visited the mall to comfort relatives of the victims. He has also vowed justice for the victims if any negligence is confirmed on the part of the mall’s management.