The death toll in the explosion that ripped a fireworks factory in Cavite last week rose to nine yesterday as police investigators remained clueless on what caused the blast.
Police have ruled out faulty electrical wiring as the cause of the explosion that obliterated the Starmaker Firecracker Factory Co. last Thursday in Trece Martires City.
Investigators said the there was no electrical connection at the site where the blast occurred.
Calabarzon police director Chief Superintendent Perfecto Palad said police investigators sifting through the debris found no ingredients of any explosive or dynamite that could have triggered the blast.
“We completely ruled out faulty electrical wiring as the cause because the area has no electrical connection being a firecracker factory. We also failed to find samples of C-4 explosives and dynamites. What we recovered in the blast site are fragments of firecrackers,” Palad said.
Police have identified the nine casualties as Clodelio Iso, Angelo Francisco, Marion Rodrin, Diomedes Enano, Christian Panganiban, Gerardo Amparo Jr., Arnold Pamplona, Susan Decillo and Ericson Layno.
Palad said Pamplona succumbed to multiple injuries while the mutilated and charred bodies of Decillo and Layno were identified and claimed by their relatives.
Listed as still missing are Onor Lugame, Belen Rodriguez and Erickson Layno.
Those still being confined at the hospital are Leanville Villa, Annaliza Tadlucop, Ariel Lubigan and Jennifer Buenviaje.
Palad said the death toll is expected to increase, citing some body parts still unclaimed and unidentified.
He said Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) specialists and Explosive and Ordnance Division (EOD) experts of the Cavite police are still looking into the cause of the explosion.
The explosion was so powerful that it sent shockwaves in a three-kilometer radius that shattered windows and toppled concrete fences of nearby homes, knocking out electricity and raining down unexploded fireworks in some areas. Body parts were strewn several meters from the blast site.
Witnesses said the blast had gouged out a crater 25 feet wide that was big enough to fit a school bus.
The explosion occurred in the area where at least three 20-footer vans loaded with finished firecracker products were parked in the one-hectare factory.
“We could not say what ignited the explosion because all those killed were near the area when the blast occurred,” Palad said.
Factory owner Salvador Tan has agreed to cooperate in the investigation of the incident.
Palad said Tan had sent representatives to the hospitals to pay the medical expenses of the victims.
Tan also promised to shoulder the funeral expenses of the nine fatalities.
One of the police investigators said the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) has already established the cause of the explosion and the police are now preparing charges against the Starmaker Co.
Authorities also estimated P27.6-million worth of property was destroyed by the fire following the explosion.
The blast instantly killed five people and left at least 60 others injured.
The Trece Martires city government, on the other hand, declared the city under a state of calamity following the explosion.
Regional Disaster Coordinating Council (RDCC) director Vicente Tomazar said four barangays of the city including the city government building and provincial government building sustained damage from the blast with a total of P10 million worth of damage. – Non Alquitran with Ed Amoroso, Philippine Star