4 more bodies found in landslide site
Geothermal plant mishap toll now 12By Joey A. Gabieta and Connie E. Fernandez
TACLOBAN CITY—Rescuers have recovered four more bodies at the landslide area inside the geothermal complex of the Energy Development Corp. (EDC) in Kananga town, Leyte.
Kananga Mayor Elmer Codilla said the bodies of Danilo Mabute, Salvador Lascanas Jr., Romeo Yazar and Alfredo Arabis were retrieved early Wednesday.
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 a portion of Pad 403 in Upper Mahiao, Barangay (village) Lim-ao, Kananga, about 10 km from the town proper.
Two more bodies have yet to be found but Codilla said that with good weather, he was optimistic that Salvador Yabana and Jorden Salcedo would be located.
A landslide triggered by rains hit Pad 403 where 45 workers were building a concrete structure that would protect geothermal 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.
The governor said she also wanted to know if safety protocols and contingency measures were followed by EDC and if there was quick response from rescue and emergency medical teams.
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 volunteers are working tirelessly to find the missing workers and help the victims and their families.
“We truly wish everyone in the job site 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,” Tantoco said.
In the meantime, Mayor Codilla belied reports of contamination in 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 samples taken from a hot spring by a team showed that boron content was 0.1 parts per million, lower than 0.75 ppm, the standard set by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
The team is composed of representatives from DENR, local government units and EDC.
Codilla said boron is naturally present in any geothermal plant because the chemical is used as an indicator of geothermal steam.
The mayor said he also called to a meeting six barangay captains to determine if there were reports of fish kill in their areas, which would be an indication of water contamination.
But he added no one reported any fish kill.