Family mourns son, father

By Pai Mulitalo Ale ,

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RAGING FIRE: Firefighters attempting to contain and put out the fire from the exploded fuel tank. (Inset) SADLY MISSED: Moemulinu'u Toleafoa Siaki.

RAGING FIRE: Firefighters attempting to contain and put out the fire from the exploded fuel tank. (Inset) SADLY MISSED: Moemulinu'u Toleafoa Siaki.

The welder who died on Monday when a fuel tank at the Matautu wharf exploded and caught fire has been identified.

He is a father of one, Moemulinu'u Toleafoa Siaki, of Nu’u-fou. The 31-year-old is the son of Toleafoa Mamea Savea Siaki and his wife Maria Monika.

Mr. Siaki, an employee of Petroleum Products Supplies Ltd (P.P.S), was apparently working on the three fuel tanks when the incident happened. 

His colleague was hospitalised but has since been discharged.

Yesterday at his home at Nuu, his father Tole’afoa Siaki said they are still coming to terms with his son’s unexpected death.

“On that morning, he just woke me up and asked me to drop him and his wife off to their work places,” said Toleafoa.

“I dropped my daughter-in-law first at Valentine’s and then him at the Petroleum Products Supplies where he works.”

Toleafoa said he did not think that that would be the last time he would see his son alive.

 “When we arrived at his work place, he just said to me that he would finish off some of the stuff he was working on at home after work that day. Those were his last words before he said goodbye to me with a smile.”

Toleafoa said he could not believe it when he was told that his son had died.

“I didn’t expect my son to be gone this early,” said Toleafoa. 

“He was my greatest helper. I would just tell him what to do and he does it without a word. He was more than a son to me.” 

Moemulinu’u is the only boy in a family of six girls.

“He was dearly loved and we are devastated.”

His grieving wife, Kuini Moemulinuu, spoke through her tears yesterday.

 “Moe was a good husband and a loving father,” she said. 

“Not a minute goes by I don’t miss him, his smile and in everything that we do.” 

Moemulinu'u and Kuini had been married for close to 10 years. Their daughter is five-year-old Maria Kalameli Moemulinu'u.

“It’s harder on my daughter,” she said.

 “She saw her father and she knows that he is already dead but when people ask her about him she says he is still sleeping.” 

Mrs. Moemulinu'u said the hardest part is when her daughter asks her about her father.

“I don’t have an answer,” she said. “He spoilt his daughter and he would protect her from anything but now he is gone.”

The explosion that killed Mr. Siaki went off a 10am on Monday.

The explosion triggered a fire, which was responded to within minutes by the Fire and Emergency Services Authority (F.E.S.A) personnel.  Emergency workers immediately evacuated everyone within close proximity to the wharf. 

Investigations are currently underway to determine the cause of the explosion.

In the meantime, claims that the fire could have blown up the wharf, destroying a large part of the Apia waterfront and placing hundreds of lives at risk, have been rejected by Petroleum Products Supplies Ltd (P.P.S).

P.P.S. Managing Director, Fanene Samau Sefo said there was no threat of the sort whatsoever.

 “The tanks were designed in a way that it cannot be destroyed by a fire,” said Fanene. “I believe the evacuation was called for precautionary measures but with the fire alone, there wouldn’t have been a time when it would spread outside of the tank. The tanks are surrounded by a cement wall so if there is any fuel leakage it is contained inside the bund wall.”

Fanene also downplayed the concerns about the pipeline that pumps fuel from the wharf to P.P.S’s main terminal at Sogi. 

“This pipe is buried six feet deep underground,” he explained. “When the incident happened, the workers shut down all fuel valves and there isn’t any possibility that a problem like that will happen because any fire requires oxygen…no oxygen can get through down where the pipeline is locked.”

According to Fanene, Mr. Siaki was doing some maintenance work on the tanks.

“They started work from the first tank, second and it was the third and last tank where the incident happened,” he said. 

“I cannot go into details about what might have caused the fire because there is an investigation into it.

“We are extremely saddened by the loss of a employee and we extend our condolences to his family and loved ones.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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