Wednesday 2nd November 2022.

November 2, 2022


At least 21 people injured – two of them seriously – and about 600 evacuees is the result of a strong explosion that occurred on the morning of this Tuesday, in a building located on Calle 54, Obarrio, Panama City. Official sources have said that the seriously injured have severe burns on their bodies and are receiving hospital care. The Panama Fire Department, the Public Ministry and the Ombudsman’s Office announced the opening of investigations into the event that originated on the 12th floor of the Urbana building. The structure – which consists of 26 apartment floors – received its occupancy permit last May, explained Abdiel Solís, director of the Panama Fire Department (CBP). “The shock waves reached other buildings in Obarrio,” said the CBP director. And due to this explosion, about 10 buildings were seriously affected, among which are several commercial premises. The headquarters of the National Association Against Cancer is one of the sites that has been seriously damaged. Meanwhile, the director of the CBP said that there are no fatalities or missing persons and that all the people in the affected building have been evacuated. However, during much of the morning and afternoon of today, search and rescue efforts continued in the surrounding buildings. At least 15 ambulances had moved to this area of ​​Obarrio. Solís pointed out that an evaluation will be made of all the structures that are around Urbana. And the entire block where this building is located has been considered an “emergency zone”. A call was made to the population to avoid moving to the area to facilitate the work of rescuers. The prosecutor of the Primary Care Section of the Metropolitan area, Julio Villarreal, went to the site as part of the investigations that were initiated ex officio. Likewise, the Ombudsman’s Office announced that he initiated investigations ex officio for the alleged violation of the right to peace and tranquility, physical integrity and for putting people’s lives at risk. Through a statement, the company promoting the building, GK Developers, and the construction company, Ingeniería RM, announced that they remain in constant collaboration and communication with the authorities investigating the causes of the event. Likewise, they indicated that their personnel have made themselves available to the authorities for any matter concerning the care of those affected. “The PH Urbana is a work delivered and in the process of being occupied since May 2022, when it received the necessary occupation and safety certifications by the competent authorities. Among them, the fire prevention systems that include the hermeticity tests required by law”, the companies assured in the letter. This event, which surprised residents, passers-by and workers in the area, was reported between 7:00 a.m. and 7:15 a.m. The mass that was taking place in the National Shrine Parish, on Samuel Lewis Avenue, was affected due to of the sound of the strong explosion, which was also heard in other areas such as El Cangrejo, El Carmen, Vía España and Transístmica. The citizen Leticia Cáceres commented that this morning she was having breakfast in a restaurant in Obarrio, together with her daughter, “when we felt that everything was shaking.” “The windows were shaking and people came out,” she said. Cáceres said that she was able to observe when the windows of the affected buildings were falling off. “I am in shock , I had not experienced something like this,” she added. Some 600 people, including children, women and people with disabilities, were transferred to safe places. The director of the CBP emphasized that the investigations will be able to determine the exact causes of this event. However, preliminarily it has been said that everything was due to a gas leak. Personnel from the Fire Department, the National Civil Protection System, Sume 911 and the National Police have remained in the “emergency zone”, which is cordoned off.

The Superior Court of Appeals of the First Judicial District maintained the precautionary measures of weekly reporting and impediment of leaving the country to the former judge, Gerardo Ríos, charged with the alleged commission of the crime of falsifying documents and facilitating the escape of José Cossio, who was serving a sentence of 74 months in prison for drug-related crimes. During a hearing held at the facilities of the accusatory penal system, in Plaza Fortuna, the court magistrates decided to maintain the precautionary measures applied to Ríos during the imputation hearing held on October 22 by a guarantee judge. Ríos is accused of having facilitated the release of José Cossio, detained in the Punta Coco prison, located on the island of El Rey in the Las Perlas archipelago. On September 14, 2020, Ríos ordered Cossio’s release, despite the fact that he was serving a 74-month prison sentence for drug-related crimes. The irregularities in Cossio’s release were alerted by officials from the Drug Prosecutor’s Office, who, when reviewing compliance with the sentence imposed on Cossio, detected that he had not fully complied with it.

The Public Ministry and the country’s security forces dismantled two criminal organizations dedicated to drug trafficking in the provinces of Panama, West Panama, Darién and Colón, from which numerous kilos of cocaine were seized. In the first operation, called ‘Tocumen’ and which began in 2019, the authorities managed to seize 500 kilos of cocaine from the criminal network led by Dangelo Ramírez Ramea, who appears on the list of the most wanted by the authorities. .According to the drug prosecutor, Marta Barrios, this network operated in the provinces of Darien, Panama and West Panama. Barrios explained that the organization received drugs from Colombia and then transported  them in double-bottom vehicles to ports in the provinces of Panama and West Panama to send them to the United States and Europe. During the raids, 19 people were captured, including two lawyers, an official and two citizens of Colombian nationality. During the proceedings, the authorities managed to seize $12,000 in cash, a firearm, 550 rounds of ammunition of various calibers, two bulletproof vests, three boats and eight cars. At the same time, in the province of Colón, the ‘Patria’ operation was carried out, in which 988 kilos of cocaine were located inside containers destined for the European market. The drug prosecutor of Colón and Guna Yala, Eduardo Rodríguez, reported that four people were arrested in this operation, who were transporting a shipment of 123 kilos of cocaine in a vehicle. Rodríguez explained that so far in 2022, 27 operations have been carried out in the ports located in Colón in which 1,785 kilos of drugs have been located inside containers. The police director, Jhon Dornheim, explained that the operations were carried out in conjunction with the National Border Service, the police and drug prosecutors. Dornheim said that during the celebration of the national holidays, patrolling will be redoubled in the neighborhoods and points with the highest vehicular traffic in the country.

The MiBus company announced on the afternoon of this Tuesday, November 1, that some metrobus routes that circulate in the capital and Colón will have detours during the national holidays. The days when there will be such route changes are November 3, 4, 5 and 10. The hours of operation during these festivities will be from 4:00 am to 1:00 am for the main connectivity routes and complementary routes; from 4:00 am to 10:00 pm for corridor routes, with the exception of some routes that have service starting from the city center at 11:00 pm and even 11:30 pm, as is the case of the Pacora corridor route (S420).In Colón the hours are from 4:00 am to 10:00 pm And the deviations will be the following: November 3: Chilibre and Pacora November 3 and 4: San Miguelito, Calle 50, Cinta Costera, and December 24 November 3 and 10: Juan Diaz November 4: Ciudad Bolívar and Alcalde Díaz November 5: Colon

“The MiBus team has prepared for these celebrations to offer a reinforced operation and facilitate the safe movement of all its users and for this, in addition to the work carried out by its operators, the company urges passengers to behave well, use of metrobuses and paid zones”, highlighted the company in a statement.

More than 10,000 officials from the security forces will be part of the “Operation Patriotic Parades” 2022. This operation began this Tuesday and runs until Sunday, November 6 throughout the country. As reported, these uniformed officers will travel by air, land and sea for these celebrations of the mes de la Patria, which are being held again after two consecutive years of suspension due to covid-19.


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