Davao mall blaze death toll rises to 38 after missing mall employee confirmed dead

Image from SAP Bong Go
  • Missing mall employee confirmed as the 38th victim of NCCC Mall blaze
  • The other 37 victims were call center agents of Research Now SSI
  • A labor group said the call center must also be held liable for the deaths of their employees

A regular employee of the New City Commercial Center (NCCC) Mall Davao earlier reported as missing has been confirmed to be among the fatalities in the fire that consumed the shopping mall.

According to Sun Star, authorities were somewhat puzzled about the missing employee identified as Melvin Gaa because some employees of the burned NCCC shopping mall claimed they saw him outside the establishment as the fire raged on.

However, Gaa’s wife said he has not gone home since the blaze nor can he be contacted.  His motorcycle, according to his co-workers, remained parked at the mall premises.

On Twitter, GMA New’s Mav Gonzales said that the Davao City government announced that Melvin Gaa is confirmed dead.

Meanwhile, the labor group Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) said the SSI call center which employed the 37 fatalities in the fire must be held responsible for the call center agents’ death.

“The SSI call center company must also be held liable for the deaths of their employees. If they could have complied with the labor inspection standards on the fire exits, sprinkler system, ventilation, lighting, noise, entry and egress specifications, and fire evacuation plan, possible harm could have been avoided,” Tanjusay said.

“Because of saving on costs, the company’s employees paid dearly with their lives,” he added.

The labor group also urged the Department of Labor and Employment to remove all call centers from shopping malls.

“Call centers as working areas must be removed from malls. Call centers should have their own separate and independent building designed for human beings working on 24-hour work operations. Call center employees are not commodities and goods that can be consigned to a warehouse converted as work area” Tanjusay said.