5 laborers killed, 12 hurt as scaffolding collapses in power plant’s smokestack

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11:20 PM February 4th, 2013

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By: Kristine Felisse Mangunay, February 4th, 2013 11:20 PM

Five laborers were killed while 12 others were injured after the metal scaffolding they were standing on collapsed as they were cleaning the inside of a power plant’s smokestack in Pililla, Rizal, on Sunday afternoon.

Chief Insp. Resty Soriano, Pililla police chief, identified the fatalities as Edward Fidel, Gregorio Ricalde, foreman Roberto Mesias, Antonio Manguera and Jeffrey Sinag.

Although the accident occurred at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, it took several hours before the dead victims’ bodies were recovered as rescuers had to be careful to prevent what remained of the scaffolding from further collapsing.

As a result, the first body—that of Fidel—was retrieved only at 2:30 a.m. Monday followed by Ricalde’s at 9:26 a.m. Mesias’ body was taken out of the smokestack at 10:15 a.m. while those of Manguera and Sinag were retrieved in the afternoon.

Of the 12 who were injured, eight walked away from the accident with minor injuries which did not require treatment at a hospital.

The remaining four, however, were admitted at Tanay General Hospital after some of the metal bars from the scaffolding fell on them.

At press time, Soriano said he had received information that those who were hospitalized—Rogelio Carigma, Tereso Escuerra, Benedicto Batain and Gualberto Rodriguez—were already out of danger.

The 17 victims worked for East West Corp. which had been contracted by Salcon Power Corp. (SPC) to clean the 70-meter-high, eight-meter-wide smokestack of the 650-megawatt Malaya thermal power plant in Pililla.

Vergillo B. Cruz, plant manager of SPC which operates and maintains the power plant, said they would extend financial assistance to the victims’ families.

According to authorities, the metal scaffolding which was roughly four stories high suddenly collapsed as the workers were perched on it.

While the cause of the collapse had yet to be determined, authorities said it was possible the structure’s foundation was not sturdy. According to one of the survivors, some of the metals bars were rusty.

The Malaya thermal power plant supplies electricity to the Luzon grid. It was rehabilitated in 1995 by Korea Electric Power Corp. under a 15-year rehabilitate-operate-manage-maintain agreement.

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