Cebu News

Methane gas caused Argao mine explosion


The explosion of a coal mine in Argao town, which killed two miners Sunday night was caused by methane gas.

Argao Mayor Edsel Galeos in an interview with The Freeman said personnel from the Department of Energy, headed by Engr. Eduardo Amante, chief of the Energy Resources Development and Utilization Department, yesterday wrapped up the investigation into the incident at Sunrise Industry Coal Mine, in barangay Linot-od.

Amante’s team began their investigation Monday morning and wrapped up only yesterday.

The team briefed Galeos of the findings at the DOE-7 office yesterday afternoon and is set to issue an official statement of the accident today. 

Galeos said the DOE told him it was methane gas that caused the explosion around 5:30 p.m. Sunday.  He said according to DOE’s report, the miners were not working that day but were merely there for a checkup.

Earlier that day was a blackout which covered most of the southern towns of Cebu including Argao.  It started past seven in the morning and resumed almost five in the afternoon.

Shortly an hour after the power returned, the two miners went inside the coal pit.

Galeos said it is a standard operating procedure that pit mines should be properly ventilated first for a minimum of three hours before any miner goes down.

The miners were able to turn on the blowers for more than 30 minutes.

“According to them there was a spark which was immediately caught up by the methane and then it exploded,” Galeos said.

Methane gas is imminent in mines especially those that are producing coal.  It is used in cigarette lighters as well as liquefied petroleum gas.

“Kumpyansa lang pod kaayo to kay dugay nagud to kaayo nagtrabaho nga minero ang usa sa namatay,” Galeos said.

The two blast victims were Avelino Pantojan and Sonny Alberca, both residents of barangay Linot-od.

Another miner identified as Jerry Bandico, a native of Negros Oriental, was brought to the Pantinople Medical Clinic for minor burns but was discharged Monday afternoon.

Sunrise Industry Coal Mine has been operating for 30 years already, according to Galeos.

There are eight mines in Argao, three in the boundary of Argao-Dalaguete, two in Linot-od and one in Balaas.

The incident just reported the other day after the family and the owner of the mines are busy attending the wakes of the victims, Argao police chief Sr. Insp. Teodolfo Manatad III said, adding that the families of the victims are not keen on filing charges against the owners because they offered shoulder the funeral expenses.

The mine is located some 25 kilometers from barangay Poblacion of the said town and road condition is difficult.

In December 2005, eight miners from sitio Canlawilao, barangay Dumalan Dalaguete, were killed in a mine explosion that was also blamed on trapped methane gas.

Two of the miners were killed on the spot while six others were trapped and their bodies were later retrieved by responding joint rescue efforts of the Bureau of Fire Protection, the Coast Guard and rescue units.  Ferliza C. Contratista and Garry B. Lao/BRP

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