Residents evacuated for safety: 1 dead, 76 in hospital after ammonia leak at Navotas ice plant

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MANILA – A person died while 76 others were hospitalized due to an ammonia leak at a cold storage facility in Navotas City, the Department of Health (DOH) reported Wednesday.

The chemical spill occurred at the T.P. Marcelo Ice Plant and Cold Storage on R-10 North Bay Boulevard South, prompting the evacuation of residents in the area.

DOH Health Emergency Management Bureau director Gloria Balboa said 53 individuals experienced vomiting, drowsiness, and difficulty of breathing and were brought to Navotas City Hospital, while 23 others were sent to Tondo Medical Center.

The casualty was identified as Mr. Gilbert Tiangco, 44, a security guard at the ice plant who was earlier brought to Navotas City Hospital.

“All residents near the area were evacuated to a certain evacuation center in Navotas. Emergency ambulances are on standby. BFP (Bureau of Fire Protection) contained the ammonia leak,” she said.

Residents are currently barred from returning to their homes following a closure order on the area.

The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), meanwhile, continues to secure the facility, but has yet to identify the cause of the leak.

“We’re still waiting for the progress report (of those on the ground) on this incident,” BFP-National Capital Region spokesperson, Fire Senior Insp. Anna Rizza Bancolita-Celoso told the Philippine News Agency.

“Kapag ganito papatayin muna nila ‘yong source ng ammonia dahil may distribution ‘yan sa buong planta, so kailangan nilang i-turn off ‘yong valves at kung saan pa mayroong hazard para matanggal ‘yong spill (In cases like this, they must first turn off the source of the ammonia because there’s a distribution system in the entire facility, so they need to turn off the valves and search for hazards),” she said.

She said this is the second time that ammonia leaked in Navotas.

In a DZMM interview, Mayor Toby Tiangco said he received report of the incident around 4:19 p.m., and a response team from BFP was immediately deployed.

As of 7:12 p.m., the smell of ammonia has subsided, however, it will still take two to three hours to completely eradicate the odor in the facility, the official said. The valve that caused the leak has also been turned off.

“Nagpahanda na rin po tayo ng food packs sa ating CSWDO (City Social Welfare and Development Office) para sa mga apektadong residente. Nananatili rin po ang ating first aid station sa area para sa mga nangangailangan ng dagliang tulong medikal (We’ve readied our food packs for the affected residents. A first aid station in the area is also on standby for those would need any medical assistance),” he said. (PNA)