MANILA - A welder from the slippers factory that was gutted by a deadly blaze on Wednesday is now under the protective custody of police.
According to the Northern Police District, which held a case conference on Friday, the welder turned himself over to authorities, saying he has been receiving death threats following the fire.
Workers who survived the blaze had said that the fire erupted after a welding equipment produced sparks and ignited chemicals stored nearby.
Seventy-two workers were killed in the incident.
Valenzuela police chief Supt. Roderick Armamento said based on the initial information they got from the welder, volatile materials like chemicals and powders were usually delivered near the roll-up door he had been working on.
"During our interview with the welder, ang sinasabi niya nagwe-welding siya dun sa itaas ng roll-up, tumatalsik yung welding rod, yung nanggagaling sa pagwe-welding," Armamento said.
"And it appears na yung pinagwe-welding-an niya sa ibaba dun ipinaparada yung mga dumadating na materyales," he added.
Northern Police District deputy chief for operations Sr. Supt. Edgar Danao, meanwhile, said they see possible negligence on the part of Kentex Manufacturing Corp., which owns the two-storey factory building.
Initial probe results revealed that there were no sprinklers in the building and that the facility was overcrowded.
The factory's windows were also boarded up with grills and wire mesh, which, a worker said, prevented those trapped inside from escaping.
But Atty. Renato Paraiso, legal counsel of Kentex Manufacturing Corp., insisted that they have been complying with fire safety regulations. -- Report from Bettina Magsaysay, ABS-CBN News