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Philippines furniture factory fire injures more than one hundred workers, with six missing

03 February 2017

A major fire at a Philippine factory complex which broke out on February 1 has injured at least 126 workers, according to Cavite province Governor Jesus Crispin Remulla, with a further six unaccounted for. The six hectare site in General Trias town, south of Manila, was still ablaze two days later but firefighters said they hoped to have dowsed the flames by nightfall.

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PThe fire apparently started when a machine malfunctioned and triggered small explosions in a section with combustible materials as two shifts of workers of about 3,500 each were coming in and going out, Remulla said.

Firefighters and police investigators were waiting outside the gutted three-story building for the last embers to die and would start an inspection once it was safe for them to enter, he said.
The Japanese-owned House Technology Industries (HTI) plant has a total workforce of 13,000 making pre-fabricated house parts for export to Japan and is the largest employer in Cavite province.

There are two patients in critical condition, and 25 other patients in hospital. Cavite Economic Zone Administrator Norma Tañag said 15 more victims are at the General Trias Hospital. Two Japanese supervisors were among the injured and some reports speak of line leaders suffering the most serious burns after trying to shepherd their subordinates away from the blaze.

According to CNN, unions staged a protest at the Labor Department office in Intramuros, Manila, urging the government to investigate the fire.

Records show it was the first fire at the Cavite Export Processing Zone, which was built in 1980.
Tañag said the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), which manages the country's export processing zones, conducted its annual inspection in HTI last June 2016 and that the company was compliant with PEZA's safety requirements.

In 2015, a fire that rapidly spread in a rubber slipper factory in a northern Manila suburb killed 72 people, prompting then President Benigno Aquino III to order a thorough inspection of some 300,000 factories in metropolitan Manila alone. He ordered charges to be filed against the owners of the Kentex Manufacturing Corp. and local officials, who he said ignored the factory's failure to meet safety requirements.

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