CAMP VICENTE LIM, Calamba City — Thick smoke still bellows for 12 hours with scores of workers believed to be trapped in a fire that engulfed the Cavite Export Processing Zone Authority (CEPZA) locator-firm House Technology Industries (HTI) on Wednesday afternoon.
In a report reaching the Calabarzon Office of Civil Defense (OCD)-Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC), Manny Pueblo, Rosario municipal disaster risk reduction and management officer (MDRRMO) reported neighbors of the manufacturing plant heard a loud explosion from the ground floor of the building around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Pueblo said the nearby firm workers then saw flames coming out and gradually engulfed the plant building emitting thick smoke around the area even until press time.
He said both fire fighters from Rosario and General Trias City which borders the Cavite Ecozone rushed to the scene as clearance was sought from the EPZA authorities with their own fire fighting units.
By 2 a.m. on Thursday, Bureau of Protection (BFP) and EPZA firefighters put out the blaze and declared that the fire was under control.
BFP officials said the origin of the fire is yet to be determined as of press time as both fire officers and local disaster risk reduction and management personnel could hardly penetrate the area yet due to thick smoke still bellowing at the plant site.
Calabarzon civil defense officer Lorenzo Haveria told Philippines News Agency (PNA) here that by 8:20 p.m. Wednesday, around 84 workers who sustained burn injuries and suffocation 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, some 20 of the injured victims were later sent home after treatment of minor burns while the 64 others were confined at the hospitals due to serious burn injuries.
Haveria reported that Cavite Governor Jesus Crispin Remulla, Vice Governor Jolo Revilla, Gen. Trias city Mayor Antonio A. Ferrer and Cavite 6th District Congressman Luis A. Ferrer IV and local DRRM officials rushed to the site and met with the CEPZA and firm officials to assess the situation.
Based on initial assessment, Gov. Remulla feared for the worst-case scenario of procuring more cadaver bags in the wake of scores of plant workers who are believed to be trapped inside the building.
DRRM search and rescue responders and CEPZA fire units are now accessing site for their emergency operations as the factory has employed an estimated 6,000 workers.
HTI 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 Gen. Trias City. Saul E. Pa-a/PNA-northboundasia.com