PH gov’t looking for remains of Filipino killed in Riyadh’s gas tanker blast
MANILA, Philippines — The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) on Tuesday said that the Philippine government has been exerting efforts to find the “missing” remains of the Filipino worker believed to have been among the 22 people who died in a truck explosion in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, last November 1.
“Our Embassy and labor officials in Riyadh are now checking on other remains that are yet to be identified,” OWWA chief Carmelita Dimzon said while noting that Filipino driver Florentino Santiago most likely did not also survive the accident.
“Malamang namatay talaga sya (Tolentino) dahil kung hindi, dapat nagpakita na siya (Most probably, he [Tolentino] died because if he was alive, he would have surfaced already),” Dimzon explained.
The body of a Syrian national was mistaken for that of Santiago, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.
DFA Spokesperson Raul Hernandez earlier said that Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ezzedin Tago was informed by Riyadh officials that Santiago’s brother-in-law and fellow OFW identified the wrong body.
Santiago was supposed to be one of the 22 fatalities in the Riyadh blast, which occurred after a tanker hit a bridge in eastern Riyadh, causing a gas leak and an explosion in a nearby heavy machinery and vehicles warehouse.
The tanker was allegedly driven by another Filipino, identified as Ruben Kebeng.
Hernandez added that two bodies have not been identified and DNA tests would be conducted on both to confirm if one of them belonged to Santiago.
Dimzon said the Philippine government has deferred the repatriation process to give way to the proper identification of Santiago’s remains.
“It’s a good thing that the DNA test was conducted because the wrong remains could have been repatriated,” Dimzon pointed out, adding that the OWWA would continue providing assistance to the family of Santiago.
Kebeng, who is now being investigated in connection with the explosion, is in good condition, according to Dimzon.
“Our Embassy and welfare officers were finally able to see him and he asked them to assure his family that he is doing fine and they do not need to worry,” Dimzon said.
She added that the Philippine government would provide Kebeng with a legal counsel.
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