3 in Cordova die inside septic tank

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Monday, March 3, 2014


A REGULAR cleaning of a septic tank ended in tragedy when three men suffocated after inhaling fumes in Barangay Poblacion, Cordova, Cebu late Sunday night.

One of the victims, 16-year-old high school student Mark Jun Escabas, died after attempting to save the two laborers.

He, together with Joel Menguito, 42, and Israel Tajanlangit, 31, were fished out from the pool of waste in Sitio Camolinas before midnight.

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This came two weeks after two men also died after inhaling hazardous fumes while cleaning a sewer in Talisay City.

Insp. Julius Ompad, head of Cordova Police Station, said the accident occurred at 10:20 p.m. while Menguito and Tajanlangit were draining the tank manually by using pails.

3 people die in a septic tank in Cordova, Cebu
A resident takes a look at an opening of a septic tank where three people died, including a 16-year-old boy. (Sun.Star Cebu photo)


Investigation

The tank was owned by Renerio Inoc, 53, and laborers were contracted for P2,500.

Ompad, during their investigation, learned the laborers were not supposed to extract the waste that night after pouring muriatic acid to help break down solids.

The cleaning should be done three days after, but the laborers went on without the owner being notified. They didn’t wear masks.

Before that, they also asked for an advance payment of P500 to Inoc’s nephew Sherwin Abaño, 35, who paid for the maintenance.

Help

Suddenly, residents heard a loud cry from Menguito, asking for help after Tajanlangit was suffocated. Before help arrived, he fell into the tank which is less than seven feet.

Escabas, who was living nearby, heard Menguito and went to their rescue. he also fell and died due to toxic fumes from waste and muriatic acid.

The boy’s mother Magdalena, 55, told Sun.Star Cebu their family had to advise a plan to get the victims’ bodies.

She said using rope was futile because the victims would slip out. A rebar was folded that served as a hook to fished out them out that lasted almost two hours.

Escabas was rushed to Mactan Doctors Hospital in Barangay Basak, Lapu-Lapu City while the two laborers were brought to Lapu-Lapu City District Hospital. They were all declared dead after arriving at the hospitals.

PO3 Vilma Degamo, chief of Cordova Police Station’s Women and Children Protection Desk (WCPD), said the victims, except for Escabas, had been cleaning septic tanks for a living.

It was the third time they cleaned Inoc’s tank. The victims’ families reportedly will be given financial assistance by the owner.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 04, 2014.

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