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A fire alarm at Northpoint Shopping Centre went off last Friday (Mar 3) at around 5pm, with several fire shutters being closed, leaving over a hundred people to be trapped on the basement levels.
Shoppers complained that the situation was chaotic and there were no clear directions given, reports Lianhe Wanbao.
According to an account by a shopper, the basement levels initially had two exits --- one which led outside the mall, and the other to the Yishun MRT Station --- but both were sealed, causing patrons to panic:
“The only way out was through a escalator which led to the upper level.
“A lot of people only found out that the exit to the MRT station was sealed after reaching it, but could not turn back as there too many people stuck behind them.
A store employee who declined to be named also pointed after the two entrances were sealed, another gate near the escalator was also sealed, hence a lot of shoppers could not find their way out.
Said the employee:
“I saw a lot of people being stuck at the gate.
"They went down to the basement, only to realise that the exits there were sealed too.
“If this was a real fire, what would happen?”
A spokesperson from the shopping mall told reporters that the fire alarm had gone off at around 5.05pm.
Upon investigation, they found that it was a false alarm:
“After the alarm sounded, the fire shutters on basement level one and two were activated and sealed shut.
“The entire incident took less than 10 minutes and the mall resumed operating normally.
“The customers’ safety are our priority.
“We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”
Another employee who has worked in a store located on basement storey one for eight years told reporters that the mall would organise fire drills once every few months:
“Every time the fire alarm sounds, the fire shutters would close.
“However, there has not been an incident in the last few years.
“Only after the renovations did the problems surface.”