THE number of people injured in the Cebu cinema incident on Monday night rose to 9, Ayala management said in its latest statement Tuesday.

"In total, there were nine wounded persons, five of whom are now in the hospital and await medical clearance," the Ayala Center Cebu management said.

The management said the mall’s Emergency Brigade Team had immediately responded to clear the area and those affected were given medical care.

Dreamscape Networks, a business process outsourcing company, rented the whole Cinema 5 for the launch of its new ad campaign Monday night. Several foreign visitors, apart from its more than 300 employees, were among those at the event. Some of those who witnessed the incident said the mall management took several minutes to respond to the emergency.

Six were initially reported wounded when portions of the ceiling of Cinema 5 at the new annex of the Ayala Center Cebu in Cebu City collapsed at 8:50 p.m. Monday.

"At around 8:50 last night, portions of the acoustic board drop ceiling fell during an exclusive event at Cinema 5.We regret that such an incident happened. Based on initial findings, the sprinkler system released water that caused the acoustic boards to fall. We are further investigating the cause," the mall management said.

Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak said rescuers from the Cebu City Emergency Medical Services were initially barred by the security personnel from entering the mall area.

"Dugay kaayo mi nakasulod. Medyo nalangay gayud kay kahinanglan pa og clearance. (It took us a while before we were granted entry. We needed clearance from the management)," Tumulak said.

Tumulak said the water that poured out of the ceiling had accumulated from the air conditioning system of the mall.

He also said the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council will ask the Office of the Building Official to investigate the matter because there might have been lapses in the mall's maintenance engineering.(Sunnex)