Serendra apartment visitor didn’t smell gas, says lawyer | Inquirer News
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Serendra apartment visitor didn’t smell gas, says lawyer

A section of Two Serendra condominium hit by an explosion in the upscale Bonifacio Global City. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

The woman who was supposed to have dinner with the occupant of Apartment 501-B at Two Serendra in Taguig City on Friday did not smell gas when she came to see him minutes before the powerful blast, the renter’s lawyer said Wednesday.

Raymund Fortun, lawyer for Angelito San Juan, who was leaving his rented apartment when the blast ripped through the building, said the information had been relayed to him by Herminia (not Dominique as previously reported) Ochoa herself.

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“To answer the question, ‘Did you smell anything when you and the security officer knocked and (San Juan) opened the door,’ (Ochoa) said no,” Fortun told reporters, as he read supposed text messages from her on his cell phone.

Ochoa is a relative of Marianne Cayton, daughter of George Cayton, the owner of Apartment 501-B and also Fortun’s client.

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Gas leak?

Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said in a radio interview on Monday that investigators were looking at the possibility that the explosion had been caused by a gas leak.

He also said the possibility that the blast, which killed three people and injured five others, had been caused by a bomb was getting slimmer.

Serendra’s central board is considering putting up more safety measures as investigators have begun to look at the possibility that the explosion was caused by a gas leak.

The apartment building’s management has installed safety measures that not only alerts it to gas leaks but also automatically shuts down the gas in the event of a leak.

“A gas leak is always a possibility. Nothing is 100 percent sure,” said Nestor San Agustin, a member of the One Serendra board of trustees and a resident in the building.

Gas supply system

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San Agustin showed the Inquirer the gas pipe system in the basement of the building, which he said was similar to the system in Two Serendra.

One Serendra is supplied with liquefied petroleum gas by Bonifacio Gas, the utility provider in Bonifacio Global City.

San Agustin pointed to a pipe painted yellow as the line that supplies gas to residents of the building.

The line has an earthquake valve that, according to San Agustin, shuts off the gas when a 4-magnitude quake or bigger strikes.

A section in the basement holds the gas pipe system that includes a pressure regulator, as well as a gas leak detector and a safety device that automatically shuts down in the event of a leak.

As an added safety measure, the management conducts a soap test and uses a gas-detecting device to detect gas leak every two months, San Agustin said.

Leak detector

Inside one apartment, San Agustin demonstrated that residents are required to install a gas leak detector that costs P10,000.

The gas detector alerts them of a gas leak and then shuts down the gas supply automatically, he said.

San Agustin said the utilities management group would not supply gas to residents who did not install the gas detector in their apartments.

Asked whether Apartment 501-B had a gas detector device, San Agustin said he had no information whether the owner had it or if he used gas.

Residents have the option to use electrical stoves (with very low electrical capacity) gas stoves, he said.

“This should be enough,” he said of the gas safety measures. “But because of what happened, we feel we should provide additional redundancies in the system.”

He said he would propose to the board next week the installation of a centralized gas detection system.

The board is also looking at proposing to residents to use a gas range that shuts off automatically, preventing gas leakage.

San Agustin said he heard from investigators that they were “looking closely” at the possibility of a “gas-like explosion.”

Renovation

He said he learned that Apartment 501-B had undergone “extensive” renovations from April to May.

He also pointed out that on Friday, Two Serendra was undergoing preventive electrical maintenance and that electricity was cut off starting in the morning. Power came back at around 6 p.m., he said.

“It’s really interesting what the investigation will reveal,” San Agustin said.

Even if it was indeed a gas leak that triggered the explosion, he said, no secondary fires occurred.

“So what does that tell us? The auto shutdown measures worked,” he said.

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TAGS: Accident, blast, Gas Leak, investigation, Philippines - Metro, Two Serendra
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