Search, rescue operations continue for Antique miners-A A +A
Thursday, February 14, 2013
ILOILO CITY (4th Update) -- Local government officials in Antique were ordered Thursday to join in the search and rescue operations for miners believed to have been buried in an open pit mine that collapsed Wednesday night.
The open pit mine was owned by the Semirara Mining Corporation (SMC), the largest producer of sub-bituminous coal in the Philippines based in the island municipality of Caluya in Antique province. The SMC is owned by DMCI Holdings Inc.
Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II, who ordered local officials to help in the search and rescue operations, said he has coordinated with the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines in efforts to find available helicopters that can be used to airlift rescued miners to the nearest hospitals.
Citing reports from the field, Roxas identified three survivors: Marjun Catoto, Adrian Celmar and Leonardo Sojor.
George San Pedro of the Semirara Mining Corp. said the three were rescued after the landslide, which caused the Pantian pit to collapse, struck around 11:55 p.m. Wednesday.
Company officials initially reported three dead but said two more bodies were retrieved later Thursday, bringing the death toll to five, with five others still missing.
The DILG is still determining the names of the fatalities, but authorities confirmed that mine supervisor Abner Lim, cousin of Caluya Mayor Genevieve Lim, was among the dead.
Lim was reportedly serving coffee to the workers when the incident happened.
The other victims were identified as Leovigildo Porras, Joven Hocate, Georgie Bragat, Efren Equiza, Jan Riel Planca, Randy Tamparong, Richard Padernilla, Anthony Siblet and Junjie Gomez. Authorities, however, are still verifying who among them remained missing.
President Benigno Aquino III has ordered concerned government agencies to provide assistance to the victims.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the President has been informed of the incident and has instructed the National Disaster Reduction Risk Management Council (NDRRMC) to give him updates.
“Part of the instruction to NDRRMC is to understand the cause of the accident,” Lacierda said.
He said the Department of Social Welfare and Development has been ordered to provide assistance to the affected families.
Reports said the miners were having a break from their night time operation at the Panian open pit, the second open pit of the Semirara coal fired power plant, when it collapsed.
Rescuers were able to retrieve the three survivors who were immediately airlifted to Manila for treatment.
It was not immediately clear what triggered the landslide and if the rainy weather in the area contributed to the accident.
Western Visayas Regional Police Director Agrimero Cruz said it happened far from residential areas.
Regional disaster-response officer Rosario Cabrera said authorities are coordinating with the company that runs the coal mine to help in the search and rescue.
As of this posting, search and retrieval operations continue. The company temporarily stopped its operations to ensure the safety of all of its personnel.
“The management is in the process of determining the cause of the accident in coordination with relevant government authorities. Meanwhile, it has stopped operations to ensure the safety of all its personnel,” said George San Pedro, the firm’s resident manager.
Police Superintendent Marlo Marfil of the Antique Provincial Police Office said the mining workers are on top of the rescue operation of what has now been declared a "danger zone."
Authorities have yet to enter the landslide area as of this posting. (Jill Beltran/Florence Hibionada/AP/PNA/Sunnex)