Philippine factory fire put out; all workers accounted for

Friday February 03, 2017
Written by The Associated Press
Feb. 3, 2017 - A fire at a Philippine factory complex that injured 126 workers was finally put out Friday after two days, and an official said all employees had been accounted for.

Gov. Jesus Crispin Remulla said firefighters and police investigators would wait until it’s safe before entering the House Technology Industries complex, which occupies 6 hectares (15 acres) of land in General Trias town in Cavite province, south of Manila.

“Right now, everybody who is supposed to be in the building ... is accounted for,” Remulla said, citing a company count of 3,189 employees who worked around the time the fire struck at nightfall Wednesday. He said unknown victims were possible only if someone rushed into the building to help without the company’s knowledge.

The factory makes pre-fabricated house parts for export to Japan. Among the injured are two Japanese supervisors. Hospitals are treating 41 workers with severe burns, including two in intensive-care, Remulla said.

The fire apparently started when a machine malfunctioned and triggered small explosions in a section with combustible materials, he said. The factory employs about 15,000 workers and is the largest in Cavite province. The fire occurred during a shift change, accounting for the high number of workers on site.

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.

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