Death toll in Tarlac hiking tragedy climbs to 6

Pia Ranada

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Death toll in Tarlac hiking tragedy climbs to 6
(2nd UPDATE) Search and rescue teams find the body of the missing female hiker on the morning of Tuesday, September 1

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – The death toll in a hiking accident in Tarlac climbed to 6 as authorities found the remains of a missing member of the ill-fated group on Tuesday morning, September 1.

The body of the hiker, identified by Tarlac disaster response office as Yasmin Solis, was found in the same area near Pangasaan Creek, San Jose town where the first 5 bodies were found.

Her body was brought to the morgue of the Tarlac Provincial Hospital, said Boboy Francisco of the University of the Philippines (UP) Mountaineers, a group that assisted in search and rescue operations.

Her parents were there to witness the retrieval operations.

The bodies of 5 trekkers were retrieved from August 30 to 31 by local search and rescue teams. They are:

  • Mark Reyvin Villanueva
  • Rocky Sumalinog, 27
  • Bernadette Ramirez, 22
  • Jo Marie San Diego, 22
  • Doreen Adriano
  • Yasmin Solis

The victims were swept away by strong currents while crossing Pangasaan Creek near Iba village in San Jose, according to an August 31  incident report of the Tarlac Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (Tarlac PDRRMO).

They were part of a group of 54 hikers conducting an outreach program for an Aeta community in Sitio Baag in San Jose.

The group arrived in Sitio Baag at around 8 am on Saturday, August 30. They made their way down that afternoon, and began crossing Pangasaan Creek at around 3 pm amidst heavy rain.

The creek’s waters quickly surged due to rainwater upstream from the mountainous part of the area.

Nine of the hikers were injured with minor cuts and bruises. They were brought to a clinic in San Jose and immediately discharged after treatment, said Guiang.

The 39 other hikers have been transported back to Manila.

Nat Benares of the UP Mountaineers Search and Rescue Team said it seemed the group had climbed without any guide.

He also clarified that none of the hikers are members of UP Mountaineers, as was stated in some media reports.

The San Jose local government had asked help from the UP Mountaineers for quick response because members of the hiking group were in the area.

UP Mountaineers members were in Tarlac to train would-be mountaineering guides. The graduating ceremony for the guides was held on Sunday, the day the first bodies were found.

Francisco, who interviewed some of the survivors, said they were from different groups who joined the outreach program. Most come from Manila and others from Tarlac. – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is Rappler’s Community Lead, in charge of linking our journalism with communities for impact.