SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/23 March) – The Management of Gaisano Capital, their security personnel and a police officer all denied rumors that the mall’s guards locked the main and exit doors during the 5.9-magnitude quake that hit the city last Friday, aggravating the stampede.
Valentino Sun, store department manager, told MindaNews via text message there was no truth to the report, saying the guards had ordered the mall-goers to calm down.
The mall’s security guards assigned at the vicinity where the stampede occurred said they got out of the mall upon noticing the mass of shoppers approaching towards them.
“Wala kami mosirado sa pertahan kay emergency god adto. Unsaon man nimo pagpagawas sa mga tawo?” (We did not lock the doors because it was an emergency. How can you let the people out of the mall if we did that?) a security guard who refused to identify himself said.
Some shoppers who declined to be identified said the mall’s security personnel locked the doors because some mall goers might have taken advantage of the situation.
“Dili siguro ka makahunahuna og pagpangawat atol sa panghitabo kay kinabuhi nimo ang importante,” (I think you could not think of stealing in a situation where the primary consideration is saving your life) another guard said.
Senior Police Officer 1 Rey J. Ensoy, who was stationed near the entrance of the mall along with another cop, said the guards did not lock the door.
Ensoy said the mass panic caused by the 5.9-magnitude earthquake had caused the stampede.
The stampede left about a hundred people injured, at least 50 of whom landed in different hospitals in the city. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)