A Timeline of Elevator Accidents in the Philippines
When one of the elevators in Makati’s PBCom Tower came crashing down from the 47th floor, it shone the spotlight on an issue that people take for granted—the operational efficiency of something so mundane as an elevator.
What many people don’t know is that elevators all around the country have been malfunctioning to disastrous ends. Most of them occurred in the early 2000s which is good news—this may mean that improvements have been implemented. Though some of these incidents happened almost a decade ago, they were not easy to forget.
A young man named Jorex Jacob was at the King Plaza Condominium. One ill-fated October day, his clothing reportedly got caught in the roll-up door of the building's elevator.
He died after falling from the third floor.
On October 3, 2010, an elevator of Lansbergh Place Condominium in Tomas Morato, Quezon City crashed. Some records state that the malfunction started on the 7th floor, others state the 9th floor. Six people were injured—sprained legs, fractured bones, back injury, and minor bruises—but they were lucky to get out alive.
Some people who got caught up in elevator-related accidents earlier that year in May were not so fortunate. Case in point—the construction workers of West Insular Life Building in West Avenue, Quezon City.
The fatalities were identified as Leo Viñas, Gilbert Teodoro, Joy Dellosa and Gabriel Rioso. A fifth victim, Carlos Lanunan, survived the accident.
What happened was the elevator fell from the building's 22nd floor down to the ground floor, where the victims were working the night shift. This accident was triggered by the the collapse of the foundation of the 18th floor.
On January 27, 2011, several workers were installing glass panels to the facade of the Eton Tower in Makati, which was still under construction at that time. Little did these workers know that they would soon play a part in what became known as the “Makati Elevator Tragedy.”
At some point past noon, a service elevator or “gondola” as the workers liked to call it—were transporting a total of 11 people to the 32nd floor of the 40-storey building.
The only problem is the makeshift elevator was only supposed to carry 5 to 6 people when it was carrying double its capacity. The elevator was carrying three workers from the 27th floor when it stopped at the 17th floor to accommodate eight more passengers.
As expected, one of the cables—balancing the elevator on an even keel—collapsed. And in an instant, the gondola was plunged down 25 floors, killing 10 people.
Two men died after a defective elevator plunged them to their deaths in a Pasay City condominium. The victims were reportedly seen getting engaged in a fistfight along the hallways of the 10th floor of the building before the fall.
The victims were identified as John Lorenz Besmonte, 19, and Ronald Marga, 21. Both sustained severe head injuries and bruises in the body, which led to their eventual deaths.
One of the tallest structures in the country, the PBCom, proved to have unsafe elevators.
On March 1, a “service elevator” malfunctioned, causing 16 people to be brought to the hospital.
The service elevator did not have an operator although one was required to run it. Some of the passengers may have repeatedly pressed the buttons, causing the malfunction.
What’s scary about this case was that the elevator started acting berserk starting on the 47th floor. The survivors told the investigators of the case that the elevator accelerated and stopped at each floor. However, passengers could not get off because the door closed quickly per stop.
This erratic movement of the elevator caused 16 people to get hurt from lower back pains and bruises in their knees. Those inside were Filipino and Chinese employees of Huawei Technology while the others were BPO employees. After their ordeal, some were brought to the Makati Medical Center and others, at the Ospital ng Makati.
Aside from the accidental pressing of buttons, the fact that the elevator was overloaded—packed with 28 people, in fact—was another angle that investigators are looking at so they could get to the bottom of the accident.
In the meantime, the Makati City government to order an inspection of all buildings in the central business district the following day. Other cities are expected to follow suit.