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Police identified the victims as sisters Arjhelyn Jhoyce, 15, and Mary Hope Viriña, 14. Injured, on the other hand, were Arnold Gomez, 35; Rommel Idio, 31; Pedro Ebalbuena, 32; and James Cichon, 15.
Johnny Yu, head of the Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, said the portion of the seven-foot boundary wall outside the Manila City Jail compound suddenly gave in at around 9 a.m. apparently due to heavy rains and strong winds. The wall crashed into five shanties occupied by 20 people and four of them were destroyed.
“It is a boundary wall. Wall lang siya na tinayuan ng mga informal settlers doon sa tabi, so nung bumagsak ‘yun, malamang naka-adjacent ‘yan or nakadikit ‘yan doon sa wall ng Manila City Jail,” Yu said.
Rescue teams and police were deployed to scour for survivors and secure the area after the incident.
Supt. Santiago Pascual, Manila Police District Station 3 commander, said the wall was weakened by fire and seven families were rendered homeless due to the incident.
Rescuers found the two sisters unconscious in the rubble and were taken to the hospital where they died.
Gomez and Idio, who was the last one to be pulled out from the rubble, were rushed to hospitals and are now recuperating. Ebalbuena and Cichon were treated on site.
Rescuers said Idio was able to wave his hand to them leading to his discovery.
“Narinig ko na lang na biglang lumagabog na malakas, nakita ko bumagsak na. Nasalubong ko na yung mga tao nagtatakbuhan. ‘Yung iba tinamaan ng hollow blocks,” barangay official Alex Cerelo said.
The heavy rains and big chunks of the wall made it hard for the rescuers to find and save the victims.
Residents said the wall crashed because of shanties leaning aside from being old and fragile.
Barangay official Roland Gacula said residents have asked them to demolish the wall. “Matagal na pong nirequest ng mga residente na idemolish yung pader. Nirequest sa chairman pero siguro ngayon aaksyon na sila.”
Manila Mayor Joseph E. Estrada assured that the city government will take care of the medical needs of the injured and the homeless. “I have directed Mr. Yu and all concerned city hall departments to provide all the needs of the affected families,” Estrada said.
Chairwoman Erlinda Honey Perez of Barangay 310, Zone 31 said a mass evacuation has been initiated. Residents were instructed to evacuate to the barangay covered court.
Estrada also said that the city government is now looking into a relocation site for the informal settlers in the area. (Betheena Kae Unite)