MANILA, Philippines – Thirteen people were killed and 12 others were injured when a boiler overheated and exploded in a styrofoam packaging factory in Sta. Maria, Bulacan, police said yesterday.
The explosion in the factory Tuesday night was an accident, Senior Superintendent Allan Bantolo, police chief in Bulacan province, told reporters, ruling out sabotage.
Bantolo said police, firefighters and rescue workers sifted through debris for other survivors inside the QC Styro Corp. in Barangay Guyong in Sta. Maria, Bulacan at around 8 p.m. on Tuesday.
He said they immediately retrieved five bodies from the rubble shortly after the explosion and later recovered another seven bodies from the site.
Among the dead were Arniel Maniego, Edward Vallejos, Morena Villanueva, Marjelou Yuson, Raphael Pante, Normalyn Oredo, Joan Camacho, Erliesa Estuista, Michelle Agana, Ronalyn Angeles, Gener Dunot and Armando Broce.
Seriously injured were Rando Jaime, Jezel Mendijico and Rio Mandai, who are undergoing medical treatment in RMMM, Mendoza and BMMG hospitals in Bulacan.
There were about 25 people working in the factory at the time of the accident, said Sta. Maria Mayor Bartolome Ramos. The factory has been operating on three shifts since it opened 20 years ago, he added.
Bantolo said the explosion was triggered by overheating of the heat exchange tank connected to the steam boiler.
The explosion ignited a brief fire at the factory, which produces styrofoam packaging materials.
The blast was so powerful that it destroyed half the building and sent debris flying outside the compound and onto the roof of a school across the street, police said.
Property damage was estimated at P10 million, said Bantolo.
Meanwhile, the father of one of the fatalities, Rodolfo Angeles, said they would file charges against the factory owner, identified as Alex Chua.
He blamed Chua for the tragedy and said he must shoulder the hospital and burial expenses of the victims.
Meanwhile, the joint task force composed of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) also said they might file charges of simple negligence resulting in multiple homicide and multiple frustrated homicide due to poor maintenance.
BFP officials noted that the factory failed to secure a fire safety inspection certificate (FSIC), which is a requirement in operating establishments like factories. – Dino Balabo, Cecille Suerte Felipe, AP