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Authorities on the hunt for what or who ignited gas in Serendra explosion
The online news portal of TV5

(UPDATE 2 - 6:17 p.m.) Authorities are checking who or what ignited the gas in the Serendra explosion that killed three persons.

This developed after Interior Secretary Mar Roxas on Friday said a liquefied petroleum gas--not a bomb--caused the deadly explosion at the upscale condominium enclave Two Serendra in Bonifacio Global City a week ago. However, authorities have yet to identify what triggered the blast.

"Handa po magsabi ang mga imbestigador, the blast was consistent with a gas explosion, most likely LPG," Roxas said in a press briefing at Camp Crame in Quezon City where he relayed results of the investigation of an inter-agency task force.

Roxas remarks were supported by Dr. Carlos Primo David, a consultant of the Department of Science and Technology and a geologist at the University of the Philippines National Institute of Geological Sciences.

The Serendra blast had minimal post explosion residue, no blast catering, instantaneously dissipated flame, minimal charring, powerful and widespread pressure and almost instantaneous explosion covering a large area--all consistent with the characteristics of a gas explosion, David said.

The presence of flammable material, air and source of ignition are necessary elements for a blast to occur, he added. Authorities have yet to determine what triggered the blast.

“May mga teorya kung saan nangyari ang leak pero inconclusive. Mas mabuti na instead na magspeculate kami nang hindi kami nakakasiguro, mas mabuti na masinop at sigurado kesa nagmamadali na mali,” Roxas said.

(There are theories which point to where the leak was but these are inconclusive. Instead of speculating on something that we remain unsure of, we chose to become thorough.)

He said the government will not impose “unrealistic deadlines” on when it can come out with findings on who will be charged for the incident that killed three people and injured five others.

When asked if Ayala Land Inc., the developer of Two Serendra, will be liable for the blast, Roxas said: "All we are prepared to say is gas explosion ito. Kung bakit nangyari ito--negligence, incompetence, fraud, hindi pa natin sinasabi. Hindi pa nagsimula ang turuan."

In a statement, Ayala Land assured that the company will continue to coordinate and cooperate with the authorities to shed light on what triggered the explosion.

The Department of Public Works and Highways and the Taguig government will undertake measures to check the structural integrity of Two Serendra following the explosion, Roxas said.

Ayala Land is also affiliated with Bonifacio Gas Corp, which supplies the piped-in LPG at the posh condominium and operates the underground network that distributes gas within Bonifacio Global City.

In 2007, an explosion also rocked another Ayala Land development Glorietta 2 in Makati City that claimed the lives of 11 people.

"Iba namang ‘yung sa Glorietta. ‘Yung principal suspect noon is methane na nanggagaling sa pagbulok ng basura o pagbulok ng sewage," Roxas said.

No presence of bomb residue was found in each method used in conducting the investigation, Roxas said. These methods include a K-9 unit walkthrough, walkthrough by police, Scene of the Crime Operatives swabs, and Bureau of Fire Protection post-fire investigation, and National Bureau of Investigation post-blast investigation.

As of Thursday, investigators have interviewed 60 people and took 53 sworn statements. They include tenants, security personnel, first responders, renovation workers, meter readers and blast witnesses.motorist outside Two Serendra.

Roxas had insisted the probe would focus on all angles, including a bombing, until forensic scientists and structural and safety experts have concluded their investigation.

The blast that happened at around 7:59 pm on Friday blew portions of Unit 501B's concrete wall several meters across the busy street between Serendra and Market! Market!, crushing a passing appliance center delivery van and killing driver Salimar Natividad and two helpers, Marlon Bandiola and Jeffrey Umali.

The blast also injured five people, including the unit's occupant, 63-year old Angelito San Juan, who sustained second degree burns.

San Juan, a US green card holder who is in the Philippines to attend a "batch event," is confined at the intensive care unit of St. Luke's Medical Center in Taguig City.

Roxas said he has been informed that San Juan is conscious, but under sedation. He added that policemen were stationed at the hospital to get his statement once he is capable to talk.

After tagging the injured tenant as a "person of interest," Roxas clarified that probers never considered San Juan a suspect.

"Kung hindi siya suspect noon, lalong hindi siya suspect ngayon," he said, adding that the behavior of San Juan were considered normal.

Unit owner Marianne Cayton-Castillo, through her aunt 63-year-old Herminia Ochoa, agreed to allow San Juan to stay in the unit.

Cayton-Castillo was in the United States at the time of the explosion. She arrived on Friday in Manila to assist in the investigation.

Prior to the blast, Unit 501-B underwent renovation, transforming it from a one-bedroom to a two-bedroom unit although authorities are still checking if it had something to do with the blast, Roxas said.

"Nagkaroon ng paggalaw ng mga interior walls. Chinicheck pa ngayon kung 'yan lang ang trabaho na ginawa. Ayon sa mga interviews, may work program. Chinecheck kung sinama ang other works in other areas. Hindi pa tayo ready na sabihin na yan lang ang ginawa or hindi lang yan ang ginawa," he said.