5 dead in Lopez's Leyte power plant incident
MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) - Five are confirmed dead and 9 are missing in a landslide that hit the Leyte geothermal power plant of the Lopez Group on Friday, March 1. (Rappler earlier reported 9 were killed. We apologize for the error.)
In a statement on Friday afternoon, March 1, Energy Development Corp. (EDC) said they are coordinating with the families of those affected by the landslide that occurred in its Upper Mahiao Geothermal Project in Leyte.
Upon confirmation with JA Arradaza Construction on Saturday, March 2, a subcontractor of First Balfour, which was working on the rig at the EDC plant in the mountains of Kananga, a total of 45 workers were affected by the incident.
This included some 21 workers who sustained minor injuries and treated in the clinic, and 10 who were taken to the hospital.
Arradaza said the 5 workers who perished in the landslide were:
- Polinio, Bonifacio
- Cabral, Edgardo Sr.
- Abella, Belly
- Milay, Joel
- Dela Austria, Etchield
Plant nurse Clement Kent Quismundo accompanied the dead bodies to the community hospital at Kananga town.
The 9 missing workers are:
- Permanghel, Abelardo
- Buanghog, Marlon
- Taboranza, Uldarico
- Yabana, Salvador
- Salcedo, Jorden
- Yazar, Romeo
- Lascañas, Salvador Jr.
- Arabes, Alfredo
- Mabuti, Danilo
According to some survivors confined at the OSPA-Farmer’s Medical Center and Gatchalian Hospital, the landslide came rolling down from the top of a steep hill around 40 meters high near the rig.
They also shared that pandemonium broke out after a dense smoke enveloped the area where they were working. Due to panic, they just ran off in several directions.
They said they also heard a loud explosion, presumably the landslide. They were not sure if the the loud bang came first or the toxic fumes.
Confined at the Gatchalian Hospital are Ronelo Basan, 24; Romeo Binondo Jr., 32, Edgar Brigildo, 35; Mario Sergida, 22; Alimar Aseo, 19; Joebert Auman, 20 and Ramirito Manawatao, 40.
Attending nurses at the Gatchalian Hospital said that 4 of the confined patients suffered fractures while the remaining were confined for breathing problems after inhaling what is suspected as sulfuric smoke.
Treated for minor injuries were Roldan Rios, 28 and Bennie Leutero, 21.
Search and rescue
Rescuers are scrambling to find the missing, hoping they still catch them alive.
“Time is of the essence here,” EDC Corporate Communications Officer Dave Devilles told local media. “EDC is using all its resources."
A joint emergency response team of EDC and the Leyte government is continuing their search and rescue operation for the missing workers.
"The Emergency Response Team and all available personnel as well as company resources and equipment have already been mobilized," the company said in the statement.
The staff of First Balfour, a sister firm of EDC, are prioritizing the retrieval operations but are sometimes interrupted by rain. They are awaiting a sniffing dog from the military.
The 125 MW Upper Mahiao plant is part of EDC's Leyte Geothermal Production Field, which is acclaimed as world’s largest wet steam field.
The geothermal titan has over 700 MW of geothermal power, beating at the heart of its 107,625-hectare geothermal reservation.
EDC and its affiliates have 4 existing production wells. Aside from Upper Mahiao, the other production wells are Tongonan 1, Malitbog and Mahanagdong.
The area straddles Ormoc City and Kananga town in West Leyte.
Earlier Friday, EDC announced it temporarily shut down its geothermal power plant in Albay province due to vibration issues.
EDC told the stock exchange it shut down "BacMan" Unit 2 of its Bacman Geothermal Project in Sorsogon City after initial inspections have shown that a turbine blade that sheared off caused damage to the unit.
First Gen, the power generation arm of the Lopez group, has a 63% direct and indirect stakes in EDC. - with reports from www.evmailnews.com and research by Ramon Calzado/Rappler.com