Death toll in Cavite blast rises to 11; owner plans to close down factory

Published by rudy Date posted on February 3, 2009

MANILA, Philippines — The death toll in the Jan. 29 explosion at a firecracker factory in Cavite rose yesterday from nine to 11 as relatives identified the bodies of two people previously listed as missing.

Salvador Tan, 29, owner of the StarMaker Firecracker Factory in Barangay Conchu, Trece Martirez, has remained “in a state of shock” because of the heavy financial losses he suffered and the death and injury to his workers after the blast flattened his three-hectare factory.

“What was left of Tan’s factory, established (by his father) in 1985, were six inches firewall and blast walls designed to soften the impact of an explosion,” Ricky Rivera, StarMaker spokesman said.

“Mr. Tan is now in a state of shock, not only because of his millions of pesos in losses but also because of the death and injuries of his employees,” Rivera, a close friend of Tan, said.

He added that Tan is now assessing his financial viability and could not say whether he would close shop or resume operations.

Meanwhile, Calabarzon police director Chief Superintendent Perfecto Palad said the death toll rose to 11 after relatives of Onor Lugame and Belen Rodriguez identified and claimed their bodies at the Mabini funeral homes.

Lugame and Rodriguez were earlier listed as missing.

The other victims were identified as Clodelio Iso, Angelo Francisco, Marion Rodrin, Diomedes Enano, Christian Panganiban, Gerardo Amparo Jr., Arnold Pamplona, Susan Decillo and Ericson Layno.

Those still in hospital are Leanville Villa, Annaliza Tadlucop, Ariel Lubigan and Jennifer Buenviaje. Tadlucop remains in critical condition.

Tan shouldered the burial and hospital bills of the blast victims, Rivera said.

Earlier, Palad claimed the factory lost P25 million in the explosion while the City Hall building suffered P1.7 million in damages. A government hospital was also damaged at a cost of P700,000.

The factory had only 37 employees, but Rivera could not explain why 48 people were rushed to the hospital.

He said Tan assured relatives of those killed and injured that they would receive financial and medical help.

With the help of the University of the Philippines College of Law ’80 Foundation, Tan is setting up seed money for the educational trust fund of the children of those killed and injured.

Rivera ruled out sabotage in the blast, saying that the pyrotechnics manufacturing is a small industry.

“We also ruled out faulty electrical wiring and pyrotechnics tests because it is done in a nearby auditorium and requires the presence of Tan and the firm’s operation manager,” said Rivera. –- Non Alquitran, Philippine Star

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