In Zamboanga, 27 hurt as firecrackers set for disposal explode

In Zamboanga City, 27 hurt as firecrackers set for disposal explode

/ 04:40 AM July 10, 2024

Zamboanga City

Inquirer files

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — At least 27 people, 11 of them civilians, were injured when the destruction of seized firecrackers here went awry on Monday.

According to Brig. General Bowenn Joey Masauding, Zamboanga Peninsula regional police director, the Philippine National Police is investigating the incident to pinpoint lapses in procedures.

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He said personnel from the PNP’s Explosives and Ordnance Division (EOD) based in the national headquarters in Camp Crame were already here to conduct an independent probe.

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READ: 5 dead, 20 hurt after firecracker warehouse explosion in Zamboanga City

From the initial 19 casualties reported on Monday, the number of injured reached 27 on Tuesday, according to the police. The city government’s count has already reached 30, although officials failed to provide further details.

At least seven of the 20 injured are still in critical condition, according to Lt. Col. Helen Galvez, spokesperson for the regional police.

Galvez said a police EOD team was trying to dispose of the seized firecrackers at 5:35 p.m. on Monday at Zone 2 in Cabatangan village, about 6.3 kilometers from the city center, when the explosive materials prematurely detonated, severely wounding at least five security personnel and two others.

At least four vehicles, among them a KM450 military truck and a firetruck, were damaged due to the strong impact of the explosion.

Likened to quake

At least 12 structures have been damaged, among these are the Padre Pio Chapel, the regional office of the Civil Service Commission, the Philippine Marines’ Assault Armor Battalion headquarters, the Cabatangan barangay hall and several school buildings, all within 2 kilometers of the blast site, and the Palacio del Sur hotel in Barangay Canelar, which is around 3 km away.

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An impact map prepared by engineer Rommel Allan Labayog of the Zamboanga station of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology showed that the impact was created within 2.4 km of the blast site. The explosion was heard by people in communities 28 km away, such as in Sangali village. At the compound of Western Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, people experienced ground shaking “as if there was [an] earthquake,” and some wondered about “a very loud thunder.”

Authorities are still assessing the damage to an undetermined number of houses around the blast site.

Cabatangan village chief Allan Dagun said both the city government and the police failed to coordinate with them the disposal of the firecrackers, noting that the Zamboanga police’s advisory indicated that this would happen on July 7.

He noted that the first disposal on July 4 was properly coordinated and went smoothly.

Monday’s operation was coordinated by the police’s Regional Explosive and Canine Unit, led by Senior Master Sgt. Elton Taluban, under the supervision of Maj. Arnulfo Jacaban Jr. They were assisted by personnel from the Philippine Marines, Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

Among the severely wounded were Master Sgt. Raymond Herochi, Chief Master Sgt. Delilah Zamora and Patrolman Steve Sta. Esteban of the EOD; Petty Officer 3 Alrick Zar Enriquez of the PCG; Fire Officer 3 Saud Mubin Ammad of the BFP; and two others that the police had yet to name.

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The firecrackers were recovered from the warehouse in Barangay Tetuan that exploded on June 29. That explosion killed five and wounded 38 others.

TAGS: firecracker injuries, PNP‎, Zamboanga City

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