FIVE persons died while 55 workers were injured after a four-level bunk house of a construction site collapsed in Barangay Lahug, Cebu City at dawn on Tuesday.
It took six hours for rescuers to retrieve the bodies of the five fatalities from the rubble in the collapsed site along Archbishop Reyes Avenue.
Nagiel Bañacia, Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council chief, identified the fatalities as Iveen Villarin, 32, of Barangay Langtad, Naga City, south Cebu; Francisco Diapera, 45, of Barangay Pag-asa, Lutopan, south Cebu; Carlos Caliwa, 60, of Negros Oriental; Crisenciano Silomen, 57, of Kauswagan, Trinidad, Bohol; and Jason Bacalso, 22, of Barangay Langtad, Naga City.
One of the survivors, construction worker William Bajao, 57, of Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, said in Bisaya “I thank God that I am still alive.”
Bajao said he was at the fourth level of the bunk house when it collapsed. He said his hip was stuck but managed to crawl out from the debris.
Chief Insp. Noel Nelson Ababon, Cebu City Fire Marshal, said the security guard of J.E. Abraham C. Lee Construction and Development (ALCI), Inc. heard a thumping sound before the bunk house’s steel roof collapsed at about 3 a.m.
He said that based on the construction firm’s security logbook, there were 153 construction workers recorded but it was not confirmed whether all of them were inside the bunk house when it crushed.
The bunk house is being used by workers at the construction projects nearby.
Some 103 injured construction workers were transferred to a different bunk house.
Ababon said the search and rescue operations ended at 9:12 a.m. and turned over the area to the personnel of the Office of the Building Official (OBO).
According to Ababon the rubble was comprised of steel roofing and scaffolding materials made of steel bars.
“They (construction firm) just placed plywood so that the workers can lie down,” Ababon said in Bisaya.
Of the 55 workers injured, four were serious, seven slightly injured and 44 sustained only minor injuries and were not brought to the hospital.
Josefa Ylanan, OBO head engineer, said the bunk house, a temporary structure, is considered an illegal structure since the firm has no permit for it which is required under their guidelines.
Their initial investigation showed that the structure is not habitable by people since it is only about four feet tall, 10 meters by 15 meters wide and with weak foundation.
Ylanan said bunk houses are supposed to be used during breaktime only for the workers to rest.
Cebu City lawyer Joseph Bernaldez said that depending on the findings and recommendation of OBO, they may suspend ALCI’s operation because of the number of casualties.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is still looking into the safety aspect of the bunk house.
Meanwhile, the ALCI issued an official statement on Tuesday talking full responsibility over the incident and said it will cooperate with authorities in the investigation while conducting a separate probe to determine the cause that led to the collapse.
“While safety has always been the primary focus in our operations, have called for a review of our safety policy and practices in all our project sites,” the statement said in part.
ALCI is a Cebu-based company engaged in general contracting, building construction and site development. It has several construction projects that include the 38 Park Avenue Showroom in Salinas Drive, also in Lahug and the Casa Mira Towers in Barangay Labangon, all in Cebu City.