Five dead, two critical in workplace tragedy

Five workers died with two others left in critical condition following an accident in an under-construction septic pit at the Manhattan Square construction site in South Jakarta on Tuesday.

The tragedy was the latest in a series of fatal workplace accidents in the city.

The police’s preliminary inquiry suggests that the victims appeared to have died after inhaling poisonous fumes inside the pit.

Police said that six of the men were trying to help a colleague who had fallen into the pit, which is located in the building’s basement.

“The first worker [who was cleaning near the pit] stepped onto plywood that gave way. [The plywood was] used to cover the pit,” Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto told reporters on Tuesday.

“He passed out. Another worker tried to help but then he, too, fell into the pit.”

The other five workers, he said, made a similar attempt because their two colleagues had not come out.

“But they also never reemerged,” said Rikwanto.

Six workers with state construction firm PT Waskita Karya, the main developer of the site, then came to the rescue of the seven workers, the Pasar Minggu police precinct said in a press statement.

Police from the precinct soon arrived and assisted in the recovery process.

The two workers who were found alive were immediately rushed to Mintohardjo Navy Hospital in Central Jakarta in critical condition, while the five deceased were taken to Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital, also in Central Jakarta, for

The two critically injured workers were identified as Masudi and Sutaryo Al Haerudin, and the dead were named as Cecep Cahyana, Joko, Jimjim, M. Saiku and Ahmad Samsudin.

Police said that they were still investigating the case, and were open to other possible causes of the tragedy. “In the meantime, we will start questioning witnesses, including the building management,”
Rikwanto said.

It is not uncommon to see construction workers, as well as service workers, working on sites without proper safety equipment.

The country recorded 96,314 workplace accidents in 2011, in which 2,144 workers died.

According to the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry, workplace accidents cause about Rp 280 trillion (US$29 billion) in losses every year.

As recently as Sunday, a 37-year-old construction worker, identified as Bariman, was killed after he fell from the 10th floor of the Jakarta State University’s (UNJ) Campus A, which is under construction.

Police said the worker, who was laying bricks on the 10th floor, fell after stepping through a plywood cover as he went to fetch cement.

On Jan. 15, the wall of a house in Pondok Indah, South Jakarta, which was under construction, collapsed on six workers who were sleeping in their makeshift lodgings adjacent to the wall.

Two workers died at the scene, while the other four were injured.

Two days earlier, a crane tower also collapsed, leaving three people dead and one injured at the Green Lake View Apartment development project in South Tangerang. (fzm)

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