Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Glorietta Blast, SoCal wildfires, man-made or nature's fury?

The past week hasn't been good safety-wise. In Pakistan, a suicide bomber attempting to kill former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto failed but ended up killing about 136 people and injuring over 300. The suicide bombing brings Pakistan to the brink of chaos politically. Current President Gen. Pervez Musharraf is under strong pressure from Ms. Bhutto who returned recently to discuss power sharing arrangements with Gen. Musharraf and to participate in the forthcoming January parliamentary elections.

In Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines, a strong explosion at the trendy and glitzy Glorietta II mall killed 11, injured at least 112, with three missing. There was confusion as to the cause of the explosion. Initial reports and off-the-cuff statements by police, military officers, and opportunistic politicians suggested that it was either a terroristic act or a military conspiracy.

Recent statements from investigators are downplaying the bomb scenario and are focusing on the deadly brew of methane and diesel gases from diesel tanks, septic tanks, and wastewater treatment facilities. If this is the case, what does this say of Ayala's environmental, safety, and engineering protocols? Ayala should clear this asap.

In California, close to 750,000 homes in seven counties have been ordered evacuated because of wildfires fueled by the infamous Sta. Winds and bone-dry conditions. California's fire department reports 14 active fires and three contained. About 373,000 acres, or 583 square are currently burning all over the state. In San Diego County alone 346,000 homes have been ordered evacuated. Over a 1,300 homes and structures have burned down. There are two reported fatalities, and dozens of injuries. The wildfires are not going to die down anytime soon. One friend emailed from San Diego saying that she could see the fires from her son's bedroom. There are reports of fires jumping the ten-lane Insterstate 15 highway.

Our prayers go out to all those killed, injured, who've lost their homes and businesses and to their suffering families.

I can't help but think though if better planning, a focus on security, attention to environmental impact issues, and a genuine concern for the community or stakeholders might have prevented or minimized the destruction and injury.

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