Blast hits Megamall; 1 killed, 17 wounded
- Mike Frialde, Agence France-Presse, Associated Press, Kap Maceda Aguila, Non Alquitran () - May 22, 2000 - 12:00am

A bomb ripped through a moviehouse in the country's largest shopping mall yesterday, killing a janitor and injuring at least 17 people on their Sunday promenade.

Metro Manila police commander Edgardo Aglipay said the bomb was placed in a corner of the women's washroom in SM Megamall's Cinema 6 in Mandaluyong City.

The blast occurred four days after an explosion at upscale Glorietta shopping mall in Makati City that wounded 13 people.

Aglipay said the bomb, which he described as "an improvised explosive device," ripped the ceiling and toppled a concrete toilet divider wall. He said the bomb could have been made of dynamite or gunpowder from firecrackers.

The lone fatality, Ivan Talumba, 24, of 1212 Cardona st., J. P. Rizal, Makati City, died on the spot in a hail of shrapnel, flying concrete and other debris.

Most of the injured were utility people, Aglipay said.

A moviegoer, Marion Cruz, an off-duty firefighter, said he grabbed Talumba and administered first aid but failed to revive him.

Some of the wounded were identified as Mergina Porena, 30; Velasco Go, 26; Josie Luz Sienna; Liwayway Nangia, 33; Dioneta Sapra, 27; Ruel Adriano, 29; Danilo Abracillo, 35; Salvador Cacad; Joan Villa, 21 and Zorayda Javier, 67.

They were rushed to nearby Medical City and Vicente Potenciano Medical Center for treatment. Others who suffered minor wounds were sent home after treatment at Clinica Manila at the mall's fifth floor.

SM Cinema 6, which was showing "Armaggedon in the Year 2000," was half-empty when the explosion occurred at around 4:50 p.m., triggering a stampede.

Many shops in the building were forced to close and nervous shoppers left but the mall management allowed some businesses to go on as usual.

Police cordoned off the scene of the explosion to preserve evidence and refused to let in reporters. A section of the building was evacuated as police ordnance experts and ambulances rushed to the site.

Shocked shoppers saw wounded people being carried out on stretchers.

Aglipay said the bomb was not similar to the one that went off at the Glorietta last Wednesday as it had had no shrapnel.

Police are trying to determine how the explosive was sneaked in when security at the mall was already tight because of the Glorietta bombing.

Although no group has claimed responsibility, Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado blamed the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for the blast as well as the Glorietta.

He said "there have been threats of urban terrorists as a consequence of military action" against the MILF in Mindanao.

"Nothing would make the terrorists happier than to see the people in panic, and this is the reason that we have to have the cooperation of all sectors to be able to live through this particular difficult period of our lives," Mercado said.

The worst fighting in the Mindanao in recent years erupted last month when the military attacked MILF rebels occupying Secretary Narciso Ramos Highway in Maguindanao. The MILF then threatened to retaliate by attacking cities in Mindanao.

The MILF said it was not responsible for the Megamall bombing. MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu told ANC-21 cable television that "the MILF has never been involved in this kind of activity."

Aglipay said he will put more policemen on the streets to prevent similar incidents. SPO4 Joselito del Rosario, a policeman assigned to guard Megamall, said a police dog unit scoured the area hours before the explosion but found nothing.

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