MANILA, Philippines – The family of the lone Filipino fatality in the explosion in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia had been informed about the accident. They are now appealing for a speedy repatriation of their breadwinner’s remains.
Florentino "Tinoy" Santiago was among the 22 killed in n a fuel truck blast and building collapse in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Thursday.
At least 11 Filipinos were injured in the blast, said Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ezzedin Tago in an interview with Umagang Kay Ganda on Friday.
Florentino is survived by his wife, Jocelyn, and two children aged 15 and 4.
Jocelyn, in an interview hours after the accident, said Florentino came home to the Philippines only last April.
She said she noticed a change in her husband's behavior before leaving for Saudi Arabia.
"Ang sabi niya 'iyung dalawang bata, yung mga anak mo huwag mong pababayaan lalo na si RJ, dahil maliit pa yan huwag mong pababayaan. Kung ano mang kailangan ng mga anak mo, bilhin mo,'" said Jocelyn.
"Pinagbilin niya sa akin lahat, pinaayos niya iyung mga papel papel na dating 'di naman niya ginagawa. Nilagay niya sa isang evnvelope," she added.
Jocelyn also noticed that her husband had been calling frequently than usual.
"Madalas ang tawag niya nitong linggong ito. Nagtataka ako sa kanya, tawag ng tawag," she said.
The Santiago family is also appealing for help for the speedy repatriation of Florentino's remains.
Tago said he is now working on the repatriation of the OFW’s body, but added that Jocelyn has to go to the Department of Foreign Affairs to sign an affidavit of acceptance.
"Ang unang requirement para ma-ship ang bangkay ay mag-sign ng affidavit of acceptance. We are contacting the employer para ma-process na ang requirement for the shipment," Tago said.
Tago said overseas Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia are usually covered by medical insurance. He added authorities in the kingdom assured that the tanker blast was not a terrorist act.
Meanwhile, Ildefonso Santiago, Florentino's brother, appealed for financial help from the government for Jocelyn and her two children.
"Lahat po sana ng pag-aaral ng anak niyang dalawa na iyan, tatlong mag-iina, eh masuportahan sana ng ating gobyerno," he said.
At least 22 people were killed in the accident when a fuel truck crashed into a flyover, triggering an explosion that brought down an industrial building and torched nearby vehicles, officials and state media said.
Health ministry spokesman Saad al-Qahtani said 135 people were injured in the disaster. He told state television they were mostly men and included some foreigners.
"The truck driver was surprised by a road accident on its route, causing it to crash into one of the pillars of the bridge," spokesman Captain Mohamed Hubail Hammadi said.
Although the incident took place near the headquarters of the Saudi Arabian National Guard and the Prince Nayef Arab College for Security Sciences, officials speaking on state television said it was an accident.
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.
A 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.
Television footage and pictures posted on social media showed a body lying by smoking vehicles and at least two charred bodies seated in a car. Another blackened corpse was visible in the remains of a truck.
More than 100 emergency personnel were combing the wreckage on the flyover and searching for victims in the rubble of the building, which housed the operations of Zahid Tractor, a distributor of heavy machinery. – with Jojo Malig, ABS-CBNnews.com; Reuters