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Hunt for gold ends in tragedy for 4

LOS BAÑOS, Laguna—The lives of four people looking for gold bars ended tragically after they “suffocated” in a 49-foot deep pit in Carmona, Cavite.

The victims were identified as Marino Pojas, 51; his son Melmar,26; Eugene Galicia, 51; and Richie Paul Intes,20. Galicia was from Biñan City in Laguna while the rest were from Malabon City.

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Based on interviews with the Carmona police and the victims’ families, six people had been digging up the pit to look for gold bars since June 5. The pit, with an opening that measured 1 by 1 meter, was dug up inside a makeshift house located in front of a cemetery in Barangay (village) Maduya.

Anna Joy Corpil, Intes’ cousin, said the treasure hunters were promised a share from the mine by certain Nik Pastor, Victor Pastor, and Ramon Narida. These people, she said, also happened to be leaders of a Christian church in Malabon.

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Case investigator Police Officer 2 Gilbert Centeno said the incident happened around 2:30 pm Thursday, quoting the accounts of Pojas’ other son Melvin. He said Melvin, Melmar, and Galicia were working underground when they encountered “some poisonous gas.”

Marino, Intes, and the property caretaker Reynaldo Alarcon were able to pull out Melvin, but Marino and Intes were trapped inside the pit.

“(Melvin) said he passed out and only regained consciousness after about three hours,” Centeno said. By then, the four were already dead.

Centeno said the police only learned about the incident by Saturday morning, after a concerned citizen saw bodies being loaded on a vehicle of a funeral parlor.

“It seemed that they did not plan on reporting it to the police and retrieved the bodies on their own,” he said.

Corpil said Intes, a member of a Christian church, was a man of faith. “Had we known he’d be working in Cavite in an illegal mining site, we have not allowed him,” she said.

The police are now looking for the people who recruited the victims to work in the illegal mine. Centeno said they are still waiting for the results of the autopsy, while Melvin and Alarcon were advised to see a toxicologist to determine the type of gas the victims had inhaled.

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Carmona police chief Chief Inspector Rey Ochave said the excavation lacked permits from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

“This was the second time this year that we’ve encountered treasure hunting in that same area. The first (group) even showed us a map where to find the gold allegedly buried during the Japanese time,” he said.

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TAGS: Carmona, Cavite, death, Eugene Galicia, Gold, Gold Mine, illegal mining, Marino Pjas, Melmar Pojas, Mining, Richie Paul Intes, treasure hunting
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