Bureau of Corrections

Ammonia leaves 66 sick in Zambo

David Yu Santos
Mayor orders probe

AMMONIA LEAK. Authorities in Zamboanga City inspect an ice plant where a supposed ammonia leak downed at least 66 on Wednesday, February 29.

MANILA, Philippines – Dozens of people in Zamboanga City were rushed to a hospital  on Wednesday night, February 29, after complaining of difficulty in breathing and chest pains, following a suspected ammonia leak in a local fishing factory.

Police investigation showed an “accident” had caused one of the pipes at the Leo Ice Plant and Fishing Company in Barangay Ayala to leak, releasing ammonia in its ice plant around 9.30 pm on Wednesday. Minutes later, a number of the factory workers and residents experienced respiratory and vision problems, as well as vomiting and chronic fatigue, and were initially brought to the Ayala Lying-in Clinic.

But as the number of affected residents grew, clinic personnel recommended the transfer of patients to the Zamboanga City Medical Center (ZCMC).

“Despite being one of the biggest barangays in the west coast area of Zamboanga City, the Ayala lying-in clinic badly needs to be upgraded,” city councilor Cesar Jimenez, Jr told Rappler. “The clinic does not even have its own ambulance.”

At least 66 people were brought to the ZCMC where they underwent outpatient care. According to ZCMC spokesman Dr Maribel Felisario, only 7 patients remained admitted at the hospital as of posting time, to undergo observation for possible serious ammonia inhalation injury.

LEAK SOURCE. Operations at the Leo Ice Plant were temporarily suspended following a supposed ammonia leak on Wednesday, February 29.

BROKEN PIPE. Local authorities are eyeing on a broken pipe inside the Leo Ice Plant as possible source of the ammonia leak.

City Mayor Celso Lobregat has ordered a probe into the accident.

Jimenez said he’ll recommend a review of the safety standards of factories and fishing plants in Barangay Ayala, where some of the country’s biggest canned sardine firms are located.

Jimenez also lamented the lack of basic safety equipment of local policemen who responded to the incident, noting that “some of them did not have protective gears, thus exposing themselves to health hazards.” – Rappler.com   

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