Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Clark execs to seal off oil tanks where 3 scavenge

CLARK FREEPORT, Philippines—Security officials here have sent patrol teams to cordon off portions of an oil depot formerly operated by the United States military.

They also proposed to dismantle or seal off three idle tanks there to prevent a repeat of the accident that killed three men on Wednesday.

The recommendations to evaluate and remove or cover the structures with cement came after a rescue team from the Philippine Air Force pulled out the third and last victim at 9:30 p.m. on Friday, according to Senior Supt. Nicanor Targa, chief of the public safety office of Clark Development Corp.

It took the PAF team almost 45 hours to recover the body of Jonel Cuenco, 27. The two other victims—Renato Medina, 38, and Renato Genese, 27—had been retrieved on Thursday. They died after the cover of Tank No. 9 split and crashed on them.

The three men, together with five others, were reportedly looting the tank of metal by melting the cover’s side braces through the use of acetylene torches.

The five escaped by fleeing to a narrow underground canal, which they used to enter the tank.

It was 32 feet high, 137 feet in diameter and embedded in the mountains of Barangay Sapang Bato, Angeles City, which is southwest (not north as earlier reported) of Clark’s perimeter fence.

Targa said rescue workers entered the tank, swam in murky rainwater that had pooled inside and searched for the bodies amid mounds of metal that threatened to collapse again.

He said officials in Sapang Bato have been asked to advise villagers not to go near any of the three tanks.

These, as well as the six used by the Coastal PTT, belonged to the petroleum, oil and lubricant (POL) farm of the United States’ 13th Air Force.

The POL, which used to have a storage capacity of 25 million gallons, extends to the former Subic Naval Base in Zambales across Clark through a metal pipeline. Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon

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