Worker survives ‘Yolanda,’ wall crash
GUIGUINTO, Bulacan—Luck held the second time around for construction worker Artemio Menico.
“I survived the fury of Supertyphoon ‘Yolanda,’ but this incident shook me,” he said on Tuesday, a day after a wall of a warehouse being built in this town collapsed and crushed the workers’ makeshift quarters, killing 11 people.
“This is scary; I thought we would die here,” said Menico, a native of Palo town in Leyte province who had a brush with death when Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) struck the Visayas in 2013.
Cement was being poured on the wall, about 10 meters high and 25 meters wide, when it fell over their shelter where workers were taking a break at 3:30 p.m. on Monday. Eight workers and a pregnant woman were killed on the spot, while two others died in the hospital.
Four single-story warehouses and two commercial buildings are being built on the 5-hectare project site in Barangay (village) Ilang-Ilang in Guiguinto, a first-class (annual income: at least P55 million) and fast-growing municipality of Bulacan.
Mayor Ambrosio Cruz stopped construction activities in the site and formed a crisis committee to investigate the accident. Police have yet to establish what caused the collapse.
The fatalities were identified as Nestor Maitom, 21; Jonathan Sagayap; Jacinto Nayanga, 25; Rodolfo Nayanga, 42; Edmund Labagala, 19; Joseph Bellones; Arnel Cardaño; Arnulfo Bajao, 43; Agnes Tan-Santos; Edmund Bernabe, 14; and Dave Avelino, 7.
5 months pregnant
Santos was 5 months pregnant and a relative of one of the workers, while Avelino, a worker’s son, and Bernabe, the foreman’s son, died on the way to Bulacan Medical Center in Malolos City, police said.
Four workers—Randy Butizon, Marlon Andaya, Junny Galela and Edmar Bernabe—were brought to the same hospital for treatment of injuries.
Eduardo Lata, who was among those pouring cement on the wall, said he did not know what hit them. He emerged unhurt from the accident.
Some workers told the police that they had earlier noticed a section of the wall to be slightly tilting. They surmised that the soil around the wall’s foundation could have been loosened by rains and an earthquake that struck Central Luzon region recently.
Menico said the workers immediately grabbed any tool within reach so they could pull out the victims pinned by the fallen wall. A backhoe was later used to immediately sift through the rubble.
Chief Supt. Ronald Santos, acting police director of Central Luzon, assured the victims that the police would hold the owner of the project site responsible for the accident. Cruz and the provincial police identified the project owner as Number One Golden Dragon Realty Corp.
Santos, who was in Nueva Ecija province for the blessing of a police hostel, said he had warned owners of buildings under construction in the region to ensure the integrity of their structures to avoid a repeat of the accident in Guiguinto.
Nenita Maitom, 56, said her son, Nestor, who was among the dead, took on the construction job because he had wanted to save money so he could complete his third year in high school.
“Nestor was my youngest child … he won’t be able to fulfill his dream of finishing school,” she said. She said he had a fever and was resting in the quarters when the accident happened.
Menico said other workers on the site were shaken. “We are concerned for our safety,” he said.
Many of the workers hail from Leyte, Samar and provinces in the Bicol region, but were residing in Barangay Bagong Silang in Caloocan City.–With a report from Anselmo Roque, Inquirer Central Luzon
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