• Deadly Bulacan wall collapse probed

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    GUIGUINTO, Bulacan: Different teams of government investiga-
    tors on Tuesday swooped down at the construction site of a warehouse being constructed here after its high-wall collapsed, crushing to death 11 persons and seriously injuring four others on Monday afternoon.

    Initially, the product standard team of Trade and Industry Provincial Director Zorina Aldana found that the steel bars used in the collapsed wall were not strong enough to hold the weight of concrete.

    “We will talk to the contractor and the supplier to find the manufacturer of the steel bars,” she said, as her team gathered samples of the steel bars. Her team needs to establish if these passed the quality standards set by DTI.

    Aldana said steel bars should have the correct weight and strength to pass quality standards.

    Gov. Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado also ordered Provincial Engineer Glen Reyes to inspect other structures being constructed in the province to ensure that contractors are strictly following the specifications and standards of the National Building Code.

    An initial probe showed that the steel bars were not big enough to support the weight of the entire structure.

    At least 11 persons died after the wall of the warehouse building collapsed, crushing the makeshift barracks and canteen used by workers for breaks, meals and napping.

    Nine of the victims, including a seven-year-old boy, died on the spot after the concrete pinned them down. Rescue officers were able to dig six people alive from the rubble but two were declared dead-on-arrival by attending physicians.

    In a report to the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office), Guiguinto Police Chief Ernesto Cruz identified the fatalities as Edmund Bernabe, Jonathan Sagayap, Cinto Nayanga, Rodolfo Naya-nga, Jerald Nayanga, Joseph Bellones, Arnel Cardano, Arnold Humawan, Nestor Maidon, pregnant mother Agnes Tan Santos, and Dave Avelino, the 7-year-old who was reportedly playing near the collapsed wall.

    Cruz also identified those injured as Junny Galela, Edmar Bernabe, Marlon Andaya and Randy Buitizon Bucayo, who were all treated at the Bulacan Medical Center.

    Alvarado promised to give justice to those who lost their loved ones.

    “We are strictly implementing the National Building Code in this province. Building contractors should conform and strictly follow the specifications required by the Code and make sure that their structures are strong and safe,” he said.

    Supt. Cruz said they are now building-up a case and have already taken sworn statements from witnesses.

    He added that investigators initially gave weight to the theory that the high wall may have been weakened by the earthquake that jolted Luzon recently. They are also looking into the possibility that the heavy rain brought by storm Amang last Sunday weakened the foundation of the building.

    “We are gathering prices of evidence so we can establish an air tight case against those who will be found liable for the multiple deaths,” Cruz said.

    In a DZMM report, the Number One Golden Dragon Realty Corp., which owns the warehouse, asked the relatives of those who died to sign a waiver in exchange for P15,000 cash assistance.

    It also quoted witness Cristituto Bernabe as recalling a gust of wind shortly before the collapse. Cristituto, who was lucky to be outside when the incident happened, was among the first responders. He added that he immediately went to rescue his nephew Edmar Bernabe, who survived.

    The relatives of the victims also claimed that workers in the proposed warehouse did not wear helmets or any protective gear during work hours.

    Guiguinto local government officers also lamented that the tragedy happened during the town’s foundation day celebration and the Halamanan festival.

    PNA

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