SANDAKAN - Moviegoers smashed through windowpanes and windows and some even tried to jump off the ledge when one of the cinema halls of a cineplex here caught fire.
At least eight people were seen jumping off the ledge of the One-Kapitol Plaza building after a fire broke out at about 3.55pm yesterday, with thick smoke billowing out of the complex at Hsiang Garden.
Two people were injured while 18 people were given first aid treatment by medical staff at the scene for smoke inhalation. The fire had broken out at one of the four cinema halls at the cineplex.
The injured, who identified themselves as friends Bugie and Kelvin, said they panicked "as there was so much smoke in the hall".
"We had no other choice but to break through the window," Kelvin said, adding that they suffered slight injuries on their hands.
A security guard, who identified himself as Ilman, said he shouted at people in the building to leave as soon as he realised a fire had broken out.
Sandakan police chief Asst Comm Rowell Marong said there was no explosion and the heavy smoke had been spread by the air-conditioning ducts.
He said the explosion some people had claimed to have heard was possibly the sound of smashing glass.
Four fire engines with nearly 25 firemen brought the fire under control within 15 minutes while medical staff in two ambulances at the scene gave immediate first aid to those who suffered from smoke inhalation.
The cause of the fire is still unknown.