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1 dead, 3 hurt as explosion rips through Valenzuela tire factory


What was supposed to be routine procedure at a tire factory in Valenzuela City led to an explosion and the death of an employee Tuesday morning.

A man was killed while three others were injured after a machine for restoring damaged tires exploded at Pilipinas Kai Rubber Corp. on Tatalon Street in Kowloon Industrial Subdivision, Barangay (village) Ugong.

City police chief Senior Supt. Rhoderick Armamento identified the casualty as Bongbong Dandin, 36, a mechanic at the factory. On the other hand, three other workers identified as Enriquito Segundo, 34; Neddie Espenueva,25; and Reynaldo Espinosa, 32, sustained minor injuries.

The Valenzuela Police and Fire Department said the explosion was probably caused by machine fatigue.

The incident happened at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday inside the factory’s compound and involved a chamber autoclave, which is an oven where worn-out and damaged tires are loaded and baked under extreme heat and pressure to restore them to working condition.

Armamento said that the machine, estimated to be about five feet high, had been operating when the explosion occurred, blowing off the circular steel lid that seals the tires, together with the heat and pressure, inside its chamber.

“The steel lid hit Dandin who was standing about six meters away from the chamber. He was conducting a quality-control check on tires that had just been restored,” Armamento added.

The pressure that had built up inside the machine was so strong that after the lid hit Dandin, he and the lid were propelled backward by another 12 meters.

Initially, the lid also tore off his right foot but what killed him was the second impact, which struck him severely in the head.

His three coworkers sustained just minor injuries due to the explosion.

Armamento noted that the autoclave or oven works like a pressure cooker.

“The factory owner, Eugenio Yu, explained to us that like a pressure cooker, if the lid is not put on properly, the pent-up pressure inside the cooker could force the lid to pop out in a violent explosion,” he said.

Investigation showed that either the lid was improperly sealed and locked, or the metal pinning the lid down securely experienced fatigue and gave way.

Armamento noted that the machine was already eight years old. “However, according to Yu, the employees who use the machines check them once a week for defects and they would not have used it if they found something wrong,” he said.

He also noted that Dandin was not the employee who regularly looked after the machine. His work involved checking the tires restored by the chamber autoclave.

Armamento said that Yu could face charges of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide for Dandin’s death.—With Jamie Elona, INQUIRER.net

Originally posted at 11:24 am | Tuesday, January 22, 2013

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Tags: Explosion , industrial accident , Philippines - Metro , tire factory , Valenzuela blast , Valenzuela City

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