MANILA, Philippines – Nearly two months since the deadly factory fire that hit Kentex Manufacturing Corporation in Valenzuela City, all but one of the 74 victims have been identified, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said on Tuesday, July 7.
PNP crime laboratory deputy director for operations Emmanuel Arañas said forensic investigators could no longer extract DNA samples from the last victim because the body had been burned completely.
The PNP earlier recovered 72 victims from the site of the fire, but Arañas said two more victims have been identified after investigators found more bone fragments from the second floor of the factory, bringing the death toll to 74.
“Even though the area was dangerous, we insisted on conducting another search after removing debris. Samples from all the collected fragments during our search have undergone DNA examination, where the latest two victims were identified other than those 72 recovered,” Arañas said.
Partially-burned bone fragments recovered between June 19 and 20 had matched DNA from the buccal swab samples of the victims’ relatives, he added.
In June, 63 victims were identified through DNA testing conducted by members of the PNP Scene of the Crime Operations team, while 3 were identified upon retrieval from the factory on May 13.
Of the identified bodies, 28 were male and 45 were female.
The PNP earlier said it would take two months to identify the bodies because most had been burnt beyond recognition.
Arañas said the PNP has already coordinated with the Valenzuela city government to facilitate the issuance of death certificates to the two newly-identified victims.
The deadly Kentex factory blaze, one of the worst to hit the industrial district in Valenzuela City, has prompted calls to review the Fire Code of the Philippines and conduct inspections of similar factories in Metro Manila.
The investigation showed that the fire was caused by a welding activity, which ignited combustible chemicals stored in the same compound, which in turn set on fire highly flammable materials in the factory.
Kentex was also found to have operated even without a fire safety certificate.
The justice department is now studying the filing of criminal and administrative cases over the incident. – Rappler.com