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Powerful explosion at Serendra condo kills 3 people, destroys vehicles

May 31, 2013 8:46pm

Strong explosion rocks Serendra
Strong explosion rocks Serendra. Taguig police inspect two vehicles crushed under the weight of a huge chunk of concrete coming from a condominium unit that exploded Friday night in a posh district of the city. Courtesy of Skip dela Cruz
(Updated 12:30 a.m.) A powerful explosion hit a condominium building in the posh Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City Friday night, sending shoppers into panic and killing three people who were crushed by debris, police said.

According to a report by Nimfa Ravelo on DZBB, a large slab of concrete was blasted off the Two Serendra building and crashed on a passing delivery van that was carrying the three victims, who were all workers.

The blast, which sent bystanders in the luxury shopping district into panic, occurred shortly past 8 p.m., Ravelo said in the report, quoting law enforcers in the area.

A private van was hit by the delivery van when it swerved following the accident, but no one was reported hurt in the vehicle.

Four residents were injured in the blast and taken to the nearby St. Luke’s Medical Center for treatment, Ayala Land Inc. said in a statement issued late Friday.

"There are reports na isa ay dayuhan, kino-confirm pa," said Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, who went to the area to help supervise rescue operations.

President Benigno Aquino III also went to the scene of the explosion to check what happened, said Roxas, describing it as "hindi pangkaraniwan."

Initial information reaching the Southern Police District Station 6 at the BGC said the explosion may have been caused by an appliance in one of the condominium units, but Roxas said the cause of the blast was not immediately known.

"Hindi natin alam kung galing ito sa bomba, galing sa aksidente, galing sa combustion ng kung anong chemical kaya di pa natin masasabi kung anong pinagmulan ng pagsabog na ito," Roxas said. "This could be anything."

A tweet from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), citing initial reports, said the explosion happened at Two Serendra Unit 501.

Eyewitness photos posted on Twitter showed shattered glass and the heavy store sign of a wine shop across the building lying on the sidewalk. The walls of the affected condominium unit appeared to have been torn off from the impact of the blast.

Thick smoke was also seen coming out of the building shortly after the explosion.

"Sa lakas ng pagsabog, yung retaining wall ay nahagis at tinawid ng retaining wall na semento yung buong stretch ng kalye kaya medyo malakas ito," Roxas described the scene.

Residents evacuated

Ayala Land Inc. confirmed that residents of Building B of the Two Serendra complex were evacuated after the explosion damaged 10 units on the fifth floor of the residential structure.

"The building has been evacuated and the residents are being taken care of and provided with lodging while the incident is being investigated," the company's official statement said.

"The Taguig police and the Bureau of Fire Protection are on site to conduct the investigation. We are fully cooperating with the authorities as they try to determine the cause of the explosion.  A large area in front of Two Serendra has been cordoned off for the safety of residents and bystanders," the statement added.

Meanwhile, Roxas said via Twitter that utilities in the Two Serendra condominium building "have been shut off." He added that engineers from the Department of Public Works and Highways, City of Taguig, and the Ayala group of companies "will be checking on gas pipelines, electricals, structurals and general safety" of the affected building of the Two Serendra complex.

GMA News' Ivan Mayrina, reporting live from the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, said Roxas is in the vicinity of the Serendra explosion. As head of the Department of Interior and Local Government, Roxas has supervisory powers over the police and local government officials.

Roxas asked bystanders and onlookers to "stay away" from the site of the Two Serendra explosion. "Don't add to the burden of rescue and peace (and) order efforts," he said.

He also advised the public against speculating about the Two Serendra explosion.

In an impromptu press briefing past midnight, Roxas said President Aquino has directed all agencies involved in the investigation to cooperate with each other so that the report on the explosion will be "unassailable."

The Serendra compound is an upscale commercial and residential area at the BGC. Many of the residents in the condominium are foreigners working in multinational companies and agencies based in Manila. — with reports from Marc Jayson Cayabyab and Danessa Rivera/KBK/YA/ELR/HS, GMA News
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