Mining incident in Semirara site leaves 5 dead

Posted at 02/14/2013 10:29 AM | Updated as of 02/14/2013 7:35 PM

MANILA (5th UPDATE) – Five miners died after a section of a coal mining site owned by Semirara Mining Corp. in Caluya, Antique collapsed late Wednesday.

Meanwhile, 4 have already been rescued and 5 more are missing. Search operations are ongoing.

Three of the rescued miners were identified by the Antique Police as Marjun Catoto, Adrian Celmar and Leonardo Sojor.

Chief Superintendent Agrimero Cruz Jr., Philippine National Police (PNP) Region 6 director, said heavy rains may have triggered the incident. Semirara has yet to determine the exact cause of the incident, however.

Cruz said rescuers are finding it difficult to access the open pit mine because of its depth.

“Napakalalim nito, 3,000 feet mahigit ang pinangyarihan, kaya po hindi basta basta mga rescuers ang pwedeng bumaba at mag-conduct ng rescue. ‘Yun lamang mga specially trained at ‘yung mga marunong sa heavy equipment, sila nalang ang pinapapunta doon para maghanap sa mga nalalabing biktima,” he told ANC.

A section of the west wall of Panian pit gave way at around 11:55 p.m., the firm said.

“The management is in the process of determining the cause of the accident in coordination with relevant government authorities. Meanwhile, it has stopped operations to ensure the safety of all its personnel,” George G. San Pedro, resident manager at Semirara, said in a statement.

He said the company is extending full support to the families of the affected personnel.

Semirara is the country's only large-scale coal producer and is owned and operated by the DMCI, the holding company of the Consunji group.

In Malacañang, Palace spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said President Benigno Aquino III has instructed the Social Welfare Department to provide assistance to the affected families and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council to investigate the incident. -- With reports from Edwin Sevidal, dzMM; ANC