UPLB biologist died of 'severe dehydration' – local official
DAVAO CITY, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – A local official in Kidapawan City said on Tuesday, December 11, that biologist James Alvarez died of severe dehydration due to vomiting caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Joey Recimilla, the Kidapawan City Tourism Officer, said in a text message to Rappler that this is based on the post-mortem examination on Alvarez, a 27-year-old biologist from the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) who was with a group of UPLB students when he died on Mount Apo on December 8.
Recimilla said the information was relayed to him by Dr Joy Encienzo of the City Health Office.
He also said that Alvarez's relatives fetched his remains at the Torreda Funeral Homes that morning. Alvarez would be brought to the Davao City airport en route to Manila, from where he will brought home to Lemery, Batangas.
On Monday, Kidapawan City police chief Superintendent Ramil Hojilla said that Alvarez's group, consisting of UPLB students, had been on Mt Apo since December 5.
“They were researching on amphibians and reptiles on Mt Apo when he (Alvarez) experienced nausea, started vomiting, and fell very weak on December 7,” Hojilla said in a radio interview on Monday, December 10.
He said local authorities had no idea about the research as there was supposedly no prior coordination with them.
“It was only Kristian James Suetos, a co-researcher of the victim, who contacted us when Alvarez already fell unconscious and was brought down from the peak,” Hojilla added.
Alvarez, an MS Wildlife Studies graduate of the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB) and University Extension Associate I of the UPLB Museum of Natural History,
He said based on Suetos' account of the incident, Alvarez experienced difficulty in breathing and started suffering from nausea and vomiting at around 11 pm of December 7.
The UPLB Museum of Natural History (MNH), however, clarified that the trek was coordinated with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and that Alvarez's group was not in Mount Apo for research but for a trip after conducting capacity-building activities for the University of Southern Mindanao in Kidapawan.
Alvarez is an MS Wildlife Studies graduate of the UPLB and University Extension Associate I of the UPLB Museum of Natural History.
In a statement, MNH provided a timeline of the group's activities on December 7, the day Alvarez started feeling nauseous.
"James fell gravely ill during the night at around 11 pm, vomiting until the next day. His group alerted authorities and decamped Venado camp, descended at around 10 am of 8 December amidst heavy rain, wet and slippery terrain and was able to arrive at Koong camp (1900 masl) by 6 pm with porters carrying James," it said.
MNH said the group rested in Koong while waiting for rescuers, since it was already dark and it was raining hard. and
"At around 9:30 pm of 8 December, James had a seizure and never regained consciousness despite efforts to revive him. Rescue teams were not able to reach the group in time, arriving at around 11 om. The group, with the rescuers, made their descent from Koong camp around midnight of 9 December and reached the jump-off site's accessible road (800-900 masl) at around 5 am," MNH said.
MNH also cited "the assistance of many kind-hearted people, the group was able to go back to Kidapawan and meet with James' relatives for his preparations.
"Constant communication, coordination, guidance, financial and emotional support is being given by the curators and staff of the UPLB Museum of Natural History, and the Office of the Chancellor through the Office of the Vice-Chancellor for Research and Extension, both to James' friends and family members in this time of great grief," it added. – Rappler.com