4 more bodies recovered from geothermal landslide area in Leyte

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TACLOBAN CITY—Rescuers have recovered four more bodies at the landslide area inside the geothermal complex of the Energy Development Corp. in Kananga town, Leyte.

Kananga Mayor Elmer Codilla said the bodies Danilo Mabute, Salvador Lascanas Jr., Romeo Yazar and Alfredo Arabis were retrieved early Wednesday morning near each other.

This brought to 12 the total number of bodies recovered from the mounds of earth and rocks that cascaded from the mountains on March 1  and hit portion of Pad 403 in Upper Mahiao, Barangay Lim-ao, Kananga, about 10 km from the town proper.

Two more bodies had yet to be found but Codilla said that with the good weather condition, he was optimistic that Salvador Yabana and Jorden Salcedo would be found immediately.

Landslide triggered by incessant rains hit Pad 403 where 45 workers were constructing a concrete structure that would protect the steam pipes along the access road from landslide.

The workers belong to JE Arradaza, subcontractor of First Balfour, general contractor of EDC.

Last Tuesday, Leyte Gov. Ma. Mimietta Bagulaya visited the EDC geothermal complex to meet with the families of landslide victims and to find out what really happened as well as to determine if safety protocols and contingency measures were followed by EDC and if there were response from rescue and emergency medical services.

She met with EDC President Richard Tantoco and other officials of the Lopez-led geothermal company and asked for a briefing regarding the accident.

Tantoco assured the governor that EDC’s workers and the volunteers, were working tirelessly to find the missing workers and help the victims and their families.

“We truly wish everyone in the jobsite survived, but we did what was humanly possible to save as many of the workers as we could,” Tantoco told the governor. “We exerted all efforts to respond as rapidly and as best as we could to what happened.”

In the meantime, Mayor Codilla belied reports of contamination on the rivers, which was allegedly triggered when a section of the steam pipe broke during the landslide.

“There is no water contamination. If there is, I will be the first one to complain because it will affect my town,” he told INQUIRER.

He said that water sampling taken from a hot spring by a tripartite team showed that boron content was at 0.1 parts per million, lower than 0.75 ppm, the standard set by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The team is composed of representatives from DENR, local government units and EDC.

Codilla said boron is also inherent to any geothermal plant because the presence of the chemical is used as an indication of presence of geothermal steam.

The mayor said he also called to a meeting six barangay captains whose villages have rivers and creeks to determine if there were reports of fish kill, which would be an indication of water contamination.

But he added no one reported any fish kill.

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