Philex rescuers undergo mission in MWSS tunnel project

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TUBA, Benguet  – Philex Mining Corp. has sent a team of miners and safety personnel to help in the search and rescue of construction workers inside a flooded tunnel being built by the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), in Quezon province, that was swamped Saturday by a deluge of water brought about by monsoon rains.

Abel Wandagan, Sr., underground safety supervisor at Philex Mining’s Padcal mine in this municipality, said Tuesday the team is on the move again in cooperation with the military, after being put on stand-by Monday in Bulacan, as the chopper that was supposed to bring them to the site could not proceed to the Quezon town of General Nakar due to zero-visibility.

He stressed that the team, which he and Roosevelt Rosalin, manager of Padcal’s Safety/Loss Control Department, lead, has been coordinating with the Philippine army in this operation after it was deployed from Padcal mine on Sunday. He said the team was accommodated by the field officer of Angat Dam.

Media reports said Tuesday that two of the six construction workers trapped in a collapsed cofferdam in General Nakar have been confirmed dead. They were David Guiague, whose body was recovered on Sunday, and Simeon Sig-od, whose body was recovered on Monday.

Wandagan said the team—equipped with self-contained breathing apparatus, a basket stretcher, oxygen tanks, nylon ropes for rappelling, pinch bars, shovels, and a power-generator set—conducted Monday night an ethnic ritual of praying and butchering an animal, which is practiced in the Cordillera region, for their safety and positive results of their operations.

Manuel Agcaoili, SVP at Philex Mining and resident manager of Padcal mine, said the company had volunteered its team of miners and safety personnel, who are known for their excellent skills in this kind of operation.

Padcal miners, whose work involves the recovery of ore from under the ground, have been in the forefront of search-and-rescue as well as search-and-retrieval operations across the country in times of disaster.

As part of MWSS’s P717-million Umiray-Angat Transbasin Rehabilitation Project, the 600-meter Sumag River Diversion Tunnel, in General Nakar’s Sitio Sumag, would connect the Sumag River to the Umiray-Angat Transbasin Tunnel, in Bulacan, which leads to the Angat Dam, a concrete reservoir embankment that supplies water to the Manila metropolitan area.

By HENT

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