DAVAO CITY – A worker was killed while seven others sustained burn injuries on Friday after an explosion occurred inside a coconut processing company in Barangay Ma-a here.

A report by 783 khz Radyo ni Juan said one Eriberto Monreal Abellana, 58, was killed when the boiler oven of Superstar Coconut Products Corp, Inc, exploded.

Superstar is an international exporter of coconut by-products. It is one of the top 1000 corporations in the country and the largest producer of other coconut by-products.

In an interview with Davao Today, Ameng, 19, a company worker who asked anonymity, said the boiler exploded at about 11:00 am.

He said the boiler is “parehas kadako sa bus (as big as a passenger bus).”

Nauyog ang tanan, bisan sa gawas mabati ang uyog (everything shook, some say they felt it even outside)” he said.

Romel Agbut, 26, also a worker said he, a warehouse man and their manager were thrown off when the explosion happened.

“Nagkasamad-samad ko pero wala man ang uban (I’m wounded but the others are not),” said Agbut.

Ameng said the one who was killed was the “operator of the boiler” and the other seven were his assistants.

Wounded in the incident were Jonathan Palse, 22, Jomerich Agi, 18, Jonie Masamloc, 21, Vicente Baladra, 41, Relmar Duray, 22, Carl Banog, 23 and Jomar Dela Vega, 18. The victims sustained burns and bruises.

Dako kaayo ang bun-og sa iyang dughan, nadat-ogan tinghali sa mga bakal. Ang uban ato sa kalayo nasunog og sa asete kay init to kaayo (Abella has a very huge bruise in the chest, maybe he was caught under the steel debris. The others were burned by the fire and by the hot grease,” said Ameng.

After the husk of the coconut is removed and shelled, the meat is also removed and dried-up in the boiler.

Ameng said that boiler periodically breaks down “but now it exploded because it must have been overloaded”.

He said the company has two boilers but the other was not operational, that the other coconuts would be brought for processing to the company’s other plants in Santa Cruz, Davao del Sur and one in Barangay Toril, about an hour away.

Lyndon, 21, said the boiler operator does not have protective clothing.

“Gloves ra man to iyang gamit (He only wore gloves),” he said. Lyndon said that the company does not provide them safety equipment but instead “sell” it to them.

“Hair net, mask, t-shirt, tanan sa ila paliton (Hair net, mask, boots, t-shirt, everything is bought from the company),” said Lyndon.

The two workers also showed their production tools which they said were also sold by the company.

“Kining blade o bara tag 250, ang kutsilyo mas mahal 300 (This blade costs P250, this knife is much expensive, at P300),” said Ameng.

Lyndon said many workers came today as it is their weekly payday.

“The guards sent us away and told us that we will receive our payment tomorrow (Saturday) and that they will not entertain those who want to get cash advances,” said Lyndon in vernacular.

The guards told Davao Today that there was no explosion inside the factory. (davaotoday.com)

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