MANILA – Authorities on Saturday declared the collapsed Chuzon Supermarket in Porac, Pampanga clear after finding no signs of anybody else trapped in the rubble.
The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) made the declaration Saturday morning, a police official said, even as five people remained missing. Authorities said they would take the search for those unaccounted for in other areas.
“Dineclare na po ng mga OCD na cleared na po ang area
(The OCD has declared the area clear),” said Police Col. Jean Fajardo, Pampanga Police Provincial Director.
The 4-story mart collapsed Monday when a 6.1-magnitude temblor struck Luzon, shaking Pampanga, Zambales, nearby provinces and Metro Manila. The bodies of 5 people, among the total 16 who perished in the quake, were pulled out of the supermarket's ruins.
Authorities continued clearing debris for safety purposes and to show that no one was indeed left trapped in the rubble, Fajardo said.
Clearing operations on what was left of the 4-story structure began Thursday when authorities initially declared that there was no one left in the collapsed building.
But authorities shifted back to search and retrieval operations after learning about the five people still missing.
Their names have been submitted to the local government. Officials said there was no information on where they were- the supermarket or elsewhere- when the quake struck.
They appealed to the public or to anyone who knows the five missing to coordinate with the local government.
On Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte said business operations of all branches of Chuzon Supermarket should be suspended after the collapse of its Porac branch.
Adenn Sigua, Chuzon supermarket legal counsel, said they respect the President's decision and that they are ready to comply.
“If there is a necessity na iimprove pa 'yung building, we will comply immediately kasi 'yung concern namin 'yung almost 100 employees per store na dapat mayroon silang trabaho," said Sigua.
(If there is a necessity to improve the building (of other Chuzon branches), we will comply immediately because our concern is that the almost 100 employees per store should be able to keep their jobs.)
The structural integrity of the Porac building is under question following the collapse. But the management of the supermarket said that it complied with the Building Code in its construction and that the establishment was inspected by the local government.
Police earlier said they were preparing an "airtight" case against those who should be held liable for the mart collapse. Phivolcs said it should not have collapsed during a quake of such strength if its builders had complied with building regulations.
-- Report from Gracie Rutao, ABS-CBN News