CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 12 July) – Military authorities have cordoned off the area around the ammunition dump at Camp Evangelista here that caught fire late night Monday, leaving three residents injured.
Major Francisco Garello Jr., spokesperson of the 4th Infantry Division, said they even barred Army ordnance disposal (EOD) personnel and investigators from entering the “ammo dump” and the adjoining areas in Camp Evangelista in Barangay Patag. “The incident area needs a cooling period before EOD personnel could move in to clear the area,” he said. Garello said once there is no longer a threat from residual fire when it is safely contained, an Army investigating team, including the Cagayan de Oro fire department, would be allowed inside the ammo dump to investigate the cause of the explosion. He said the ammo dump stored 155mm Howitzer rounds and various ammunition for military units assigned to the 4ID. Mayor Rolando Uy urged residents to be calm and tasked officials of the 4ID to prevent the recurrence of similar incidents in the future. “I would enjoin all residents to stay calm and refrain from making any speculations on the incident,” Uy said. A series of earth-shaking explosions traced to the ammunition complex inside Camp Evangelista roused residents from their sleep in Cagayan de Oro and as far away as Opol town before midnight Monday until the wee hours of the morning on Tuesday. Three residents were injured and were treated at the Camp Evangelista Emergency Station Hospital inside the camp.
Nick Jabagat, officer-in-charge of the Cagayan de Oro Disaster Risk Reduction Office, said more than 100 families living beside Camp Evangelista fled to Patag barangay hall and another 50 families living near the ammo dump were evacuated to the gymnasium inside the army camp. Power outage inside the camp and adjoining areas in Barangay Patag added to the confusion as thousands of shrapnel fell on the roofs of nearby houses. “I saw a huge chunk of artillery shell that landed near the barangay hall where the evacuees are staying,” Jabagat said. Social media posts on Facebook were littered with pictures of damaged roofs and spent shells that landed in the backyards of Cagayan de Oro residents. Garello said they have to stop a convoy of ambulances and firetrucks at the gates of the camp because it was so dangerous for the responders to come in due to exploding ammunition. He said the fire at the ammo dump was officially declared out at 3:10 a.m. Jabagat said food relief packs from the city government were given to 25 of the 50 families who fled to the gym in Camp Evangelista and who were still not allowed to go back to their houses by military authorities because they lived beside the ammo dump. He said psycho test debriefings would be conducted in the affected areas on Thursday. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)
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