Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II said bomb experts have not found so far any “positive indication of fumes or burns” showing that the explosion that hit Serendra Two Condominium Friday night was caused by an “ordinary bomb”.
“The cause of the explosion remains unknown. Three persons were killed, all passengers of a utility van that was struck by flying debris, while five others were hospitalized for various injuries,” he told reporters in a news briefing at the lobby of the building.
He said investigators from the Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) combed through the building using three teams of bomb-sniffing dogs from the NCR Police Office, Southern Police District and Army.
“Wala silang naamoy na fumes na nagmumula sa bomb. Tatahol yung mga sniffing dogs kung may naamoy, hindi nila ginawa yun,” Roxas said.
He called the indications “significant” but investigators have not ruled out anything. “Bomb ba ito o gas leak o chemical explosion, we cannot say for sure,” he said.
Police combing through the debris recovered no triggering device, Roxas said, as he gave assurances the investigation will rely on forensic evidence to determine what really caused the explosion.
Roxas said further investigators would continue checking burn patterns and measuring how far the debris flew off from the explosion site. “Kinakalkula nila kung anong force na kakailanganin para maitapon nga yung malalaking bahagi ng semento. Hanggang sa ngayon wala pang nakikitang triggering device of any kind from the debris sa kalye,” he said.
BFP and SOCO investigators focused on Unit 501B where the explosion occurred and Unit 506 where they recovered the canister of a used fire extinguisher. Police also found burn marks one floor below in Unit 306.
The occupant of 501, Angelito San Juan, had complained of apparent suffocation in his apartment before the explosion. “Tinawagan niya ang admin ng gusali, so lahat sila iinterbyuhin para magakaroon ng sequence ng pangyayari,” Roxas said.
Experts are still analyzing the burn patterns to determine in what direction the fire swept through.
McKinley Parkway road and the immediate area were closed off to the public as police sift through the debris to gather and document evidence in their continuing investigation. Roxas appealed to the public for patience.
The powerful explosion ripped off portions of the Unit 501B’s concrete wall which fell several meters away across the busy street between Serendra and Market Market, crushing a passing appliance center delivery ban. All three passengers were killed. Police identified them as Salimar Natividad, the driver and two helpers, Marlon Bandiola and Jeffrey Umali.
Five other persons were injured, including San Juan, the occupant of 501B, and a US citizen identified as Allen Poole, 67 who lived in an adjacent building and was hit by shattered glass. As of press time, he remained hospitalized.
San Juan, who suffered burns all over his body, is in stable condition at the intensive care unit of St. Luke’s Medical Center. Those who were treated for various minor injuries were 9-year-old Louise Lorenzo, a passerby, Janine Nicole Bonjoc and April Joy Garcia, 19, who is suffering from trauma.
Residents of the Serendra Two and two other nearby condominium buildings were evacuated as the government turned off all utilities—power, water and gas—and took other measures to ensure their safety.
On orders of the President, Roxas said government and building engineers conducted a thorough inspection of all power, water and gas installations in the affected buildings. No one will be allowed to return until the buildings get a seal of good housekeeping, Roxas said.
Roxas condoled with the families of the three fatalities,
“Nais pong iparating ng inyong lingkod ang aming mataimtim na panalangin at taos-pusong pakikiramay sa mga naulila ng mga namatay. Kaisa namin ang kanilang mga pamilya at mahal sa buhay sa kanilang pagdadalamhati. Nawala man sila sa mundong ibabaw ay naririto po tayo na handang magbigay ng karampatang tulong,” Roxas said.
“Ipinapangako naman ng ating otoridad sa mga naulila at sa mga nasugatan ang mabilis at masinsinang imbestigasyon sa puno’t dulo ng pangyayaring ito,” he added.