I recently came across the tragic story of the Ozone Disco fire in Manila which killed 162 people in 1996. The tragedy was completely avoidable if it were not for the usual stupidity, incompetence and corruption which lead to the disaster.
Here’s a few lines from Wikipedia on what happened:
At the time of the fire, it was estimated that there were around 350 patrons and 40 club employees inside Ozone Disco, though it had been approved for occupancy for only 35 persons.
The usual fuck the rules if I’m making more money attitude. How do you even fit 350 people into a space suitable for 35?
Quezon City officials were quoted as saying that the club’s emergency exit was blocked by a new building next door, and that there was no proper fire exit installed.
It was also reported that the exit had been locked from the outside by the club’s security guards, who had thought that a riot had taken place.
How the fuck do you mistake people screaming for their lives for a riot? Probably like every other robot employee in the country he couldn’t visualize the reality of the situation because he hadn’t been trained to think about it. To do so would have meant delving into common sense, and we know where that usually leads – a dead end train of thought.
On March 16, 2001, the president of Westwood Entertainment, Hermilo Ocampo, and the corporation’s treasurer, Ramon Ng, were found guilty by a Quezon City trial court and sentenced to a four-year prison term, and fined 25 million pesos each.
6 year court case? Fast by Philippines standards.
The trial court concluded that Ocampo and Ng failed to provide fire exits and sprinklers inside the establishment, that the fire extinguishers they placed were defective, and that the lone exit was through a small door that swung inward and did not meet the standard set by the building code.
No surprises with the lack of safety, but expecting a small nightclub in the Philippines to have a sprinkler system, yeh right.
A former employee who was among the survivors of the fire has claimed that the inward swinging doors were installed because it was good feng shui.
And how’s that feng shui working out for you now?
On November 20, 2014, seven officials of the Quezon City government were found guilty under the Philippines’ anti-graft and corrupt practices law by the country’s anti-graft court Sandiganbayan. They were held liable for negligence in connection with the approval of the building permit and issuance of certificates of occupancy for the company which owned Ozone. The club’s owners were also found to be liable as well.
18 years after the tragedy a conviction. That’s more like the Philippines we know.
September 30, 2008, Quezon City Mayor Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. released an ordinance that warns the owners of entertainment establishments to use swing-in/swing-out doors.
12 years after the tragedy. Good thinking batman!
Usually you’re just left scratching your head when observing filipinos. Sometimes you cannot help but laugh at the absurdity. Other times you feel like you’re ready to lose your shit and throttle somebody. Reading this story, though, just left me feeling down. If it were not for filipinos just being filipinos those 162 kids wouldn’t have died.Published in