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Trapped miners saved

/ 07:59 AM June 04, 2011

A rescue team successfully saved the two workers trapped inside the tunnel of a quarry site in Calagasan, Argao town, Cebu.

Fidelito Alforque, 30, and Nelson Pantojan, 33, both of barangay Calagasan, were rescued at 10:45 p.m. Thursday, or almost 14 hours after a portion of the quarry site collapsed.

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The Department of Environment and Natural Resources Mines and Geosciences Bureau (DENR-MGB) 7 recommended the total stoppage of the quarry operations and suspension of the quarry permit issued to Rogelio Fuentes because of the incident.

The quarry permit was issued by the provincial government valid from Jan. 17, 2011, to Jan. 16, 2012. MGB-7 director Loreto Alburo sent a team to the area yesterday.

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A team from the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources (Penro) also joined MGB’s inspection team.

The team recommended that corrective measures be undertaken immediately like lowering or barring down the overhang boulders to a more stable level.
Also, signages must be put up and the area must be cordoned off to avoid unnecessary entry.

Heavy rains for three days triggered the collapse of the boulders blocking the entrance of the quarry.

“We support small-scale mining or quarry to cater and provide livelihood opportunities to our communities but it should not compromise the safety and health aspects of the workers,” Alburo in a press statement said.

Alforque, Pantojan and two other workers Joey Langue and Joel Pantojan were digging at the stone quarry site at the hillside of Calagasan at past 9 a.m.

Thursday when they heard a thud outside the tunnel. Since Alforque and Pantojan were already some 10 meters from the entrance, Langue and Joel were asked to check outside.

They saw rocks falling on the entrance of the tunnel so they ran away from the quarry tunnel leaving Alforque and Pantojan inside.

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Argao Vice Mayor Stanley Caminero and his brother, Councilor Guillermo Caminero, who operate coal mines in the town, immediately formed a rescue team composed of their miners.

The police later arrived and also helped in the rescue operations.

Despite the arrival of heavy equipment, the team opted to do manual digging to prevent the tunnel from collapsing.

Alforque and Pantojan are coal miners but they also gather stones at Fuentes’ stone quarry to augment their income. Jhunnex Napallacan with Carmel Louise Matos/PR

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TAGS: Calagasan, Department of Environment and Natural Resources Mines and Geosciences Bureau, Trapped miners
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