Water tank blast kills 4; probe set
CITY OF SAN JOSE DEL MONTE—Police were investigating whether bad engineering or sabotage caused a 42-foot tank containing 2,000 cubic meters of water to explode on Friday dawn here, killing three people and injuring 44 others.
Propelled by strong jets of water, debris from the water tank struck about 60 houses in Barangay Muzon here, killing Jimmy Garcia, 50; Elaine Chamzon, 22, and Jaina Espina, 1.
Garcia, a police aide, was carried by the surge of water from the tank and was killed when his head struck a hard object, said Gina Ayson, a city disaster risk reduction management officer.
Garcia, Chamzon and the baby were pronounced dead on arrival at San Jose del Monte District Hospital.
The injured, including the water tank operator, were treated at local hospitals. Many of them were sleeping when the blast occurred at 3:30 a.m.
While not ruling out sabotage, investigators said they would check if the tank was properly built.
Supt. Fitz Macariola, San Jose del Monte police chief, said the explosion was so strong it also damaged a motorcycle and a patrol car parked at the nearby police community precinct.
Policemen assigned to the precinct went out of their offices to check the effects of the blast.
According to Victor Canita, an engineer of San Jose del Monte Water District, the tank was built in 2010 to supply potable water to more than 20,000 families of the city as well as the relocation sites for informal settlers from Metro Manila.
A fourth child, year-old Nina Louise Ape, died while undergoing treatment at a hospital, Ayson said.
Water and power services were cut off due to the accident.
But Canita said water supply had been restored for residents in the lower portions of Muzon by noon.
The blast damaged a gasoline station, about 50 meters away from the tank. The gas station had been ordered closed after work crews reported that it might have been leaking petrol.
According to the San Jose del Monte City web site, Muzon is one of its most populated villages with 81,947 residents as of 2010, and a projected population of 107,355 residents by 2015.
San Jose del Monte was classified as an urban growth area, catching the expansion of Metro Manila. —CARMELA REYES-ESTROPE