Over 100 injured in Cavite factory fire

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MANILA (Updated) -- More than 100 workers, including three Japanese, were injured and at least three were missing in a fire that hit a huge factory in Cavite province and sent thousands of employees scampering to safety, an official said Thursday.

The fire at the House Technology Industries was put under control around 2 a.m. Thursday but has not been fully extinguished nearly 18 hours after it started in General Trias town in Cavite, said Governor Jesus Crispin Remulla. Firefighters hope to enter and inspect the factory later Thursday, February 2.

About 10 of the injured were in critical condition, Remulla told ABS-CBN TV news, adding some employees jumped from windows to escape the blaze at the three-story building where pre-fabricated house parts are manufactured for export to Japan.

The fire apparently started in a section where a machine used to manufacture house insulation materials overheated, he said.

Manny Pueblo, municipal disaster risk reduction and management officer of Rosario town, said residents in the area heard a loud explosion from the building's ground floor around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 1.

Workers of a nearby firm then saw flames coming out and gradually engulfing the plant building.

A third of about 15,000 employees were on duty when the fire struck and company officials were doing a count to find out if any more were missing at the sprawling factory compound located in a special economic zone in General Trias, about 26 kilometers (16 miles) south of Manila.

Calabarzon Civil Defense Officer Lorenzo Haveria reported though that as of 8:20 p.m. Wednesday, around 84 injured factory workers were rushed to Cavite nearby hospitals.

About 57 were treated at Divine Grace Hospital, while 27 others were admitted to the General Trias Maternity Hospital.

On Thursday dawn, about 20 of the injured victims were later sent home, while 64 others were confined at the hospitals due to serious burn injuries.

The House Technology Industries is a Japanese manufacturing plant specializing in assembly of prefabricated housing construction materials and production technologies at their plant site in the boundaries of Cavite Ecozone in Rosario and General Trias.

In 2015, a fire that rapidly spread in a rubber slipper factory in a northern Manila suburb killed 72 people, prompting then President Benigno Aquino III to order a thorough inspection of some 300,000 factories in metropolitan Manila alone. He ordered charges to be filed against the owners of the Kentex Manufacturing Corp. and local officials, who he said ignored the factory's failure to meet safety requirements.

The Kentex fire was one of the worst in the country after a 1996 disco blaze that killed 162 people in Manila. (AP/PNA/SunStar Philippines)


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