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Malfunctioning siomai steamer sends Megamall shoppers fleeing in panic, 1 hurt

(Updated 9:21 p.m.) An explosion briefly caused panic at the SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City Sunday evening, with at least one reported hurt in a stampede before shoppers were able to calm down after learning the sounds were not gunshots. Megamall management and city police had contrasting theories on the incident. SM Supermalls, in a post on its Twitter account, said the cause was a short-circuiting siomai steamer at the SM Food Court. "Around 7:25 p.m., a siomai steamer at SM Food Court in SM Megamall short-circuited, caused people to file out. All operations are back to normal," it said in a tweet posted at 8:19 p.m. SM spokesperson Ian Mathay told GMA News Online over the telephone that smoke from the malfunctioning steamer, or warmer, belonging to the Paotsin outlet in the food court caused people to panic. "Pero back to normal na ang operations ngayon," he said.
A malfunctioning siomai steamer sent people running out of Megamall Sunday evening. A Youscooper took this photo outside the Building B side entrance at 7:30 p.m. Photo courtesy of Marjorie Jesura
And a bulb falling from the 4th floor...or not? A report by radio dzBB's Rodil Vega quoted Mandaluyong City police chief Senior Superintendent Florendo Quibuyen as saying their initial investigation showed the cause was an exploding lamp on fourth floor. "May light bulb na nahulog from the fourth floor to the first floor kaya parang may sumabog," Mandaluyong police public information officer P01 Gabby Capinpin told GMA News Online in a separate telephone interview. "Nakakuha [rin] kami ng report na na-short-circuit nga rin ang steamer, pero inaalam pa namin ang koneksyon nung dalawang insidente." Mathay, however, denied that a bulb had exploded or fallen from a higher floor. One injured The dzBB report also said that as many shoppers initially tried to file out of the mall, a woman was injured and rushed to a nearby hospital by a Metropolitan Manila Development Authority rescue team. Before the explanation came out, many shoppers and patrons had initially taken to Twitter to voice their fears. One described people "running and shouting" while another recalled seeing people running because they heard what they thought were gunshots. The SM Megamall had been holding a three-day sale at the time of the incident. Only last Jan. 26, tension gripped the establishment after armed robbers staged a jewelry heist, firing shots in the air so they could escape. The Jan. 26 incident prompted a tightening of security at the mall. — with a report from Amanda Fernandez/BM, GMA News