Glorietta Shut Down

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE –ALL four malls at the Glorietta have been shut down by the Makati City government as officials await the result of a thorough inspection conducted by a team of engineers yesterday.

Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado said Glorietta 1,3 and 4 were ordered closed as a technical team composed of engineers from the City Engineering Office headed by Nelson Morales, city building officials and engineers from Ayala Land Inc. which operates the mall have yet to come out with their findings on the soundness of the mall.

Glorietta 2 had been closed to the public since the explosion Friday that killed 11 people and injured more than a hundred.

Mercado said the mall will remain closed until officials are certain that the building is structurally sound and does not pose a threat to shoppers. He said the city government and Ayala Land agreed to close down the shopping center.

“Dito sa Glorietta 2 nagkakasundo kami na sarado talaga ito hangga’t di pa tapos ang imbestigasyon at hangga’t di pa nakakapagpalabas ang Ayala ng kanilang konklusyon kung tuluyan na ba nila itong gigibain o ire-renovate,” Mercado said.

The vice mayor inspected the mall accompanied by engineers from the city government, Ayala Land and representatives from the Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers and the Association of Structural Engineers yesterday morning. A team inspected all four establishments.

He said the findings of the inspectors will be known today.

City Councilor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay warned that the shopping complex will remain closed if the building’s structure had weakened.

Binay said the city government sought the help of professional structural engineers to inspect the buildings inside the complex.

If defects are found, he said a permanent closure order on the entire complex will follow.

Ayala Land said the inspection will determine if the mall is safe.

“We would like to ensure that all our systems inside are okay. We want to ensure the safety of everyone,” ALI’s Dindo Fernando said. “There is indeed a temporary closure order and we are coordinating with the local government particularly the city engineering and building office,” he added.

Not an accident

AYALA Land yesterday rejected police suggestions that an accidental gas explosion led to last week’s deadly blast that killed 11 people at one of its shopping malls.

“As far as we know there was nothing extraordinary that our personnel mentioned to us,” Ayala Land Inc. president Jaime Ayala told a news conference.

He said human waste flowing from the lavatories in the mall is processed in sump pits at the Glorietta basement and is “approximately 98 percent liquid.”

Decomposition of solid waste that usually produces large volumes of methane “does not occur in this commercial sump pit,” he added.

Police have not found any evidence to indicate the explosion was caused by a bomb.

They said a malfunctioning sewage pump could have caused a spark that ignited the methane gas, which could in turn have punctured a diesel tank that provided fuel for emergency generators.

But Ayala said diesel does not ignite at temperatures below 220 degrees Celsius (428 degrees Fahrenheit), and the mall’s maintenance personnel had not reported “any aberrations” to the diesel tank that contained about 6,000 liters of fuel.

Ayala Land spokesman Alfonso Reyes said the blast damaged property worth about P100 million but that lost revenues were not likely to impact significantly on the company’s full-year profits.

The European Union yesterday gave assurances that its economic relations with the Philippines will not be affected by the Glorietta explosion.

“We hope that the investigation will be finished soon and that despite this tragedy the business and personal links between our countries and the Philippines will continue to grow,” British Ambassador Peter Beckingham said.