Two miners die of gas poisoning in Itogon, Benguet


BAGUIO CITY -– Two small scale miners died due to gas poisoning after they were trapped inside a mine tunnel in Itogon, Benguet on Monday, the Benguet Police Provincial office said on Tuesday.

Senior Superintendent Florante Camuyot, provincial police office director, identified the victims as Robert Binay-an Gorteza and his cousin Anthony Gorteza Salas, both of Barangay Gumatdang, Itogon, Benguet. Due to heavy rains, the two were unable to go out.

Camuyot relayed that based on the investigation conducted by the Itogon Municipal Police Station, it was found that Gorteza entered the mine tunnel around 8 a.m. on Monday to get their mining equipment.

When he failed to go out until noontime, his cousin, Salas, followed to check on him, but he too did not go out.

This prompted Peter Gorteza Salas, brother of Anthony to also go inside. He smelled a foul odor which he assumed to be gas so he went out to seek help.

Together with other miners, they used a blower to supply oxygen inside the tunnel and went inside where they found the two lifeless bodies around 5 p.m. on Monday.

Benguet and the rest of the Cordillera region have been experiencing heavy downpours for over a week now due to monsoon rains which were enhanced by typhoons “Gorio” and “Huaning”.

Due to this, the Cordillera Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (CRDRRMC) and local officials in Benguet have continuously advised miners to delay mining activities.

Frances Ivy Carasi of the Office of the Civil Defense Cordillera (OCD-CAR), said that at the height of typhoon Gorio and Huaning, the Department of Interior and Local Government Cordillera (DILG-CAR) Regional Director Marlo Iringan, vice chairman of the (CRDRRMC) had also alerted all local chief executives to monitor small scale mining activities in their respective areas.

Engineer Felizardo Gacad of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, in a separate interview, said that the regional office of the MGB together with the Provincial Mining and Regulatory Boards (PMRB) which are under the direct supervision of the provincial governors always include as safety tips the advise not to hold mining activities during rainy days, as a precaution.

He added that the MGB has completed a list of geo-hazard areas in the different provinces which they have furnished to the local government. “We ask them to also monitor the geo-hazard areas during the rainy days as a precautionary measure,” he said. Liza Agoot/