With the fire largely put out, people who made their lucky escapes told reporters that they heard no alarm when the fire broke out at noon.
At a Chinese restaurant on the 12th floor, smoke seeped from a lift into the eatery, choking a large number of people who were having lunch.
A diner surnamed Lai said the customers panicked when they saw the smoke and were unsure if they should continue eating.
“The staff were very calm. It was the customers who thought something was wrong... the cashier was still working as normal, and she even gave the change back to a customer,” she described.
Soon after, the customers started to leave and go onto an outdoor podium of the shopping mall, waiting for rescue. There were parents with children as well as the elderly.
A kitchen worker recalled black smoke rushing into the kitchen all of a sudden. Many people fled outdoors for fresh air.
A considerable number stayed on the rooftop as they heard the fire was burning from lower to upper floors. They could smell burnt materials on the rooftop.
Another worker on the 15th floor said he did not hear any alarm. The lift stopped working, and he struggled down a staircase amid the smoke.
A worker on the 19th floor said there were 30 people at the beauty center she works in at the time of the fire. She similarly did not hear any alarm and only left the center because it was her lunch break.
“I went into the lift, and there was much smoke... I am surprised that we could go into the lift when there was a fire,” she said.