MANILA (2nd UPDATE) – As of this date (November 3), around 25 people were confirmed dead in last Thursday’s fuel truck explosion and building collapse in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the Philippine authorities in the area said
The lone Filipino casualty identified as certain Florentino Santiago, a truck driver in Riyadh, was one of the confirmed killed during the accident which kills 24 other victims, the Department of Foreign Affairs reported.
Santiago was apparently sleeping inside his truck parked around 300 meters from the accident area when the explosion occurred, it was learned.
Santiago’s wife Jocelyn told reporters in the Philippines that Florentino left his two children at her aged 4 and 15 years old. The government through the OWWA assured the victim’s family of financial assistance and scholarship support.
Reports reaching the Manila Channel said fuel-loaded truck suddenly crashed into a flyover in the Saudi capital Riyadh that triggered a huge explosion that also brought down an industrial building and torched the vehicles nearby.
State televisions reports said 135 people (11 of them Filipinos) were injured in the disaster, mostly foreign men, which were also confirmed by some witnesses. The authorities are now evaluating the information and details of those killed in the disaster.
To date, nine (9) injured Filipinos were still at the hospital.
“The truck driver was surprised by a road accident on its route, causing it to crash into one of the pillars of the bridge,” a witness told reporters.
Meanwhile, the injured Filipinos (which names were still being held by the DFA as of the moment) were brought to the National Guard Hospital, Habib Hospital and Jazira Clinic, all in Riyadh, but some with only slight injuries were already discharged.
Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ezzedin Tago, told Philippine TV that the embassy is facilitating everything to extend necessary assistance to the Filipino victims.
“May 2 team kami pumunta sa malalapit na ospital para i-confirm kung meron pang ibang na injure. Sa 2 na-confirm, kinukuha namin ang kanilang family contacts, details para inform namin ang kanilang family dito o sa Pilipinas,” he said.
“Nakipag-coordinate kami sa employer nila to ensure na they are well assisted habang nasa ospital sila,” Tago added.
Saudi civil defense chief Saed al-Tweijri said the fire caused by the blast has been brought under control. He blamed the tanker driver for the accident.
The warehouse, several storeys high, was leveled by the blast, which also caused severe damage to other neighboring buildings. Rubble, twisted metal and shattered glass littered a wide stretch of the surrounding area.
The blast, which struck at around 7.20 a.m. local time, was on one of the capital’s busiest roads but because Saudi Arabia is still observing the Eid al-Adha holiday, traffic was lighter than normal. An hour after the explosion, fires still raged in cars and trucks nearby and a column of black smoke billowed over the area.
Dozens of burnt-out vehicles surrounded the scene of the blast, including a small bus and other cars on top of the flyover, which was left buckling after the incident.