CAMP DANGWA, LA TRINIDAD, Benguet: Two mine workers died of gas poisoning inside a mining tunnel of Baguio Gold in Tuding, Itogon this province on Tuesday, three days after another miner was reported to have died of suffocation in the mining site.
The victims of the latest incident – Edgar Campus Santos, 29, of Purok 3, Bantug-Petines, Alicia, Isabela, and Jordan Lindayo Cortez, 25, of Paracelis, Mountain Province – were working for a small-scale miner identified as Fred Segundo.
An investigation found that the victims were among the miners who entered the tunnel at 7 a.m. on Tuesday but failed to return after eight hours of work. Their co-worker, Julio Palua, said they went back to the tunnel and searched for the missing miners.
Santos and Cortez’ bodies were recovered three hours later from a tunnel about 150 meters deep. They reportedly died from gas poisoning emitted from inside the tunnel.
Separately on Saturday, Cesar Agustin Paler, a native of Nueva Ecija, was found unconscious by another miner in one of the tunnels. His co-miners said Paler went inside an abandoned vein to get some ore samples and failed to get out. He was said to have died inside the tunnel due to suffocation.
The latest fatalities add to the many other victims of the supposed abandoned mine tunnels in Itogon, locally tagged as “Benguet Death Chambers,” following a series of fatal accidents in the mining site.
Despite the reported rise in death cases due to gas poisoning in the tunnels at what has been declared a public mine site, illegal private mining in the area has continued.
Benguet Governor Nestor Fongwa has ordered a moratorium on all mining activities in Itogon mining site following the onset of rains and inclement weather, which pose danger to the lives of miners and workers.
Last year, 11 workers died when they were trapped inside one of the tunnels that collapsed due to a heavy downpour. –THOM F. PICAÑA, Manila Times