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Overcrowded Disco A Deathtrap

Wed., March 20, 1996

The Ozone Disco Pub should have held no more than 35 people. More than 400 were packed inside.

There was supposed to be a way out in case of fire, but it was blocked by a new building next door. So when a spark became a blaze, and the dance crowd became a stampede toward the only door, at least 150 people didn’t make it.

On Tuesday, authorities and family members did their best to identify the bodies.

President Fidel Ramos, touring the charred ruins of the popular nightclub, demanded that the disco’s owners be questioned about why they let so many people into such a place. If the four owners failed to show up for questioning, he said, they should be arrested.

“Obviously, the fire exits were not inspected,” said Ismael Mathay, the mayor of the Quezon City suburb where the Ozone is located. “This was undoubtedly a deathtrap.”

The Ozone was a place where upper-middle-class Manila youths went to be seen. There was food, drink and, most important, a tiny dance floor wedged between the disc jockey’s station and the bar.

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