Cause of Two Serendra explosion still unknown

Posted at 06/01/2013 12:16 PM | Updated as of 06/01/2013 8:06 PM

No triggering device found

Condo occupant complained of suffocation

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas on Saturday said authorities have yet to identify what caused the explosion that hit Two Serendra condominium at the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig Friday night.

During a press briefing on Saturday morning, Roxas said no triggering device was found at the site.

He added bomb-sniffing dogs from three different teams -- the Southern Police District (SPD), National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) and Philippine Army -- did not register "positive" indications that the blast was caused by a bomb.

But Roxas clarified the groups investigating the incident are not yet ruling out anything.

"Hindi pa natin sinasabi na hindi ito bomba pero ito factual ito, masasabi natin na dun sa tatlong teams ng bomb-sniffing dogs na yun, hindi sila nagregister ng pag-amoy ng fumes or residue na nagmumula sa mga pangkaraniwang bomba," he said.

"Sa ngayon hindi pa natin masasabi kung ano ang sanhi ng pagsabog na ito," he added.

He said the occupant of condo unit 501, where the blast reportedly occurred, had complained of suffocation and heat before the incident.

The tenant was identified as Angelito San Juan. He is currently in the intensive care unit (ICU) at St. Luke's Medical Center Global City after sustaining burns.

Ayala Land said a certain George Cayton owns unit 501, which was rented out to San Juan on May 31.

The interior secretary said investigators also found burn marks in unit 306, which was one floor below San Juan's unit. There is no fourth floor at the Two Serendra building.

"Inaalam pa kung umakyat ang apoy o bumaba ang apoy," Roxas said.

Authorities also found a used fire extinguisher in unit 506, which was on the same floor as unit 501.

Roxas said, "Pero di pa natin masabi kung nagamit ito before the explosion na naging sanhi o contributor sa explosion o nagamit ito after the explosion na umabot sa unit 506."

Victims identified

The blast, which occurred at around 8 p.m. Friday, resulted to the deaths of three people. Five others, including San Juan, were wounded.

The fatalities were men on board a passing Abenson delivery van which was crushed by large chunks of concrete that fell from the building.

They were identified as Salvador Natividad, driver of the van, and Jeffrey Umali and Marlon Bandola, both passengers.

The four other injured victims were identified as Allen Poole, resident of condo unit 683, and passersby 9-year-old Louise Lorenzo, Janine Nicole Bondoc and 19-year-old April Joy Garcia.

Poole, who sustained injuries from shattered glass brought about by the explosion, and Garcia are still seeking treatment at St. Luke's Medical Center.

Lorenzo and Bonjoc, who sustained multiple minor injuries, were already discharged from the hospital last night.

Two Serendra building was fully evacuated after the explosion.

Roxas said, "Humihingi kami ng paumanhin sa mga residente pero ang inyong kaligtasan ang siyang sinisiguro dito kaya hindi muna kayo pababalikin hanggang masiguro nila lahat ng itong mga connection sa electrical, tubig, gas ay sigurado."

Ayala Land statement

Property developer Ayala Land said it continues to look into the welfare of those who were affected by the explosion.

The firm said the families of those who were killed will be provided with assistance.

Ayala Land also said it has cordoned off areas of the building while investigations are ongoing.

“In the interest of safety, we have isolated Section A and B of Two Serendra. All other areas within Serendra are being inspected to ensure that they remain safe. Residents of the said area have been provided with temporary lodging until clearance to return is obtained from the police authorities,” the company said in a statement.

“Ayala Land is closely coordinating and assisting the police on matters pertaining to the investigation. At this point, Ayala Land is not in a position to make conclusive statements regarding the cause of the explosion but will provide updates as they become available,” it added.

'No cover-up'

Malacañang, meanwhile, assured the public of transparency in the investigation and that there will be no cover-up.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte on Saturday said President Benigno Aquino III has given strict orders to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and other agencies to make sure their findings on Friday’s explosion in Taguig are backed by evidence so it can withstand the scrutiny of anybody.

She also reiterates the President's appeal to the media and the public not to speculate on the cause of the explosion.