Issue of June 9, 2019
Mt. Province

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2 Benguet farmers die of gas poisoning
by Dionisio Dennis Jr.

Two bodies of farmers, who allegedly died of gas poisoning, were found in an abandoned impounding pond of a small-scale gold processing area in Itogon, Benguet.

In a report, Maj. Romel Sawatang, Itogon town police chief, said they received a call from a concerned citizen of Loacan, informing them that an alleged gas poisoning happened at Gold River, Loacan around 1:35 p.m. on June 5, resulting in the deaths of Flores Esnada Lampacan, 59 and Lharson Ambros Lampacan, 32; both farmers and residents of Baguio Gold, Tuding, Itogon.

Sawatang said two residents discovered the cadavers at around 11:30 a.m. inside an abandoned tailings pond in Gold River, Loacan.

Sawatang said based on initial investigation, the two men went down the abandoned pond sometime June 2 or June 3 to check and clean it but were overwhelmed by the toxic fumes.

Gases that naturally occur underground are methane, hydrogen suphide, carbon monoxide,  carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide, among others.

Methane is an asphyxiant due to its ability to displace oxygen. Oxygen deficiency causes headaches, nausea, dizziness and is likely to result in death.

Hydrogen sulfide acts on the nervous system causing headache, and dizziness.

Carbon monoxide is considered the most toxic gas in mines. 

He said they are doing a follow-up investigation to find out if there is foul play involved.

In September 2017, Environment Sec. Roy Cimatu issued a cease and desist order to all small-scale mining activities in the Cordillera, following a massive landslide at a mining area in Itogon that killed scores of people.

The order remains in effect.

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