Remains of worker in Semirara mining pit recovered after mudslide – Oct. 6, 2019
Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
October 06, 2019 01:29pm
ILOILO CITY—The remains of a worker buried in a mudslide at a mining pit on Semirara Island in Antique has been recovered two days after he went missing.
Search and rescue personnel of the Semirara Mining and Power Corp. (SMPC) found the decomposing body of Pepito Andapat, 39, at 4:15 p.m. on Friday at the Molave mine pit, said Maj. Frankie Gatila, police chief of Caluya town in Antique.
The SMPC reported Andapat missing on Oct. 2 after mudslide occurred at the mining pit around 1:05 a.m.
Andapat, a native of Barangay Calamba in Cebu City, was operating a power shovel excavator and working on a canal at a ramp (inclined access way) of the pit about 100 meters below sea when the mudslide occurred.
Gatila, citing a report, said the mudflow dragged the excavator and Andapat for 60 meters where they were buried.
He was declared missing after failing to respond to a personnel check.
The Department of Energy (DOE) is investigating the incident.
In a statement, the agency said it deployed a team of geologists and engineers to conduct an on-site inspection.
“We are also continuing to pray for the safety of the personnel involved in the search and rescue operations. We are thoroughly investigating the matter to determine the cause of the incident, and ensure that all safety standards and protocols were strictly upheld,” DOE Secretary Alfonso Cusi said in the statement.
Cusi said the SMPC “has assured us of their full cooperation as we carefully look into this incident.”
The mudslide is the first reported fatal accident related to mining operations in Semirara since September 2016 when three workers drowned after inhaling poisonous gas inside a barge at the SMPC pier.
In 2015, nine SMPC workers died after excavated soil and part of the northern Panian open mine pit collapsed, burying the workers and heavy equipment.
Two years earlier on Feb. 13, 2013, five workers also died and five others remain missing and presumed dead following the collapse of the western wall of the Panian pit.
Environmental and occupational safe and health groups had raised concerns on the safety of workers and adherence of the company to safety protocols and measures.
Government agencies had cleared the SMPC of liabilities in the accidents but directed the company to institute additional safety measures.
Owned by the David M. Consunji Inc., the mining firm has been operating one of the biggest coal mines in Asia in Semirara since 1999 after it took over the then government-owned Semirara Coal Corp. The company employs about 4,000 workers.
At least 96 percent of locally produced coal is supplied by SMPC.
Semirara Island is among a group of nine islands comprising Caluya town in Antique. /je