3 Filipino Workers Die of Suspected Toxic Fumes in Saipan

Three Filipino workers in Saipan died after they succumbed to toxic fumes from a wastewater line where they worked.

“The first victim had gone down into the tank to unclog a rubber seal and open a drainage,” according to a preliminary statement from the Department of Public Safety in Saipan. “On the way back up to ground level, the victim lost consciousness and fell back into the tank.”

“Two other co-workers climbed down into the tank to render assistance to the first victim. The two rescuers also lost consciousness inside the tank, causing them to become victims as well,” the department stated.

The victims were identified as Ricky Quijano, 47, Amid Tapon, 41, and Danilo Paglinawan, 53. According to the department, the three were exposed to high levels of hydrogen sulphide gas, possibly causing them to fall into the wastewater and drown. Their remains are now being repatriated back to the Philippines.

The Philippine Consulate has been notified that a probe by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will be conducted. Edgar Tomas Q. Auxilian, consul at the Philippine Consulate in Guam, said he’s in touch with the honorary Philippine consul in Saipan, Glicerio Arago.

Families of the three men have also been notified and arrangements have been made to properly repatriate their remains back to their families, according to a written statement from Steve Qian, president of USA Fanter Corp. Ltd., which employed the Filipino workers.

“Mr. Qian’s immediate concern is with the families of the deceased – they were immediately contacted yesterday – and making arrangements to promptly repatriate the remains of deceased to their respective homes and awaiting families,” the workers’ employer said in a written statement.

USA Fanter was commissioned by the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. to install a new pump for the wastewater lift station near Saipan’s Agingan Point.

CUC legal counsel James Sirok had mentioned in a separate interview that a “safety gear issue might have been involved in the incident. He also mentioned that there were CUC personnel when the incident occurred in the project site.”