AKLAN, Philippines – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) reminded swimming and paddlers associations to observe safety measures when venturing out to sea, after 7 members of a dragon boat team died in an accident in Boracay.
Lieutenant Commander Marlowe Acevedo of the PCG Caticlan Office said the unfortunate incident could have been avoided if the team had alerted the PCG that it was conducting training on Wednesday morning, September 18.
“Sa pagkakaalam natin, every year ginagawa nila ang training. We expect na marunong silang lumangoy o may kaalaman sa paglangoy dahil sa nature ng kanilang activity. Wala tayong impormasyong natanggap na nandoon sila bago ang insidente,” Acevedo said.
(As far as we know, they do their training every year. We expect that they know how to swim because of the nature of their activity. We did not receive any information that that they would be there prior to the incident.)
At the time, the team was training in the waters of Bulabog beach for the Kaohsiung Taiwan Cup scheduled in November.
Acevedo said that if the PCG had been informed about the activity, its personnel would have assessed the safety of venturing out at sea and also the team’s safety based on their gear, before the group headed out.
“Sana nabigyan natin sila ng guidance or assessment kung safe ang dagat at na-check ang kanilang mga kagamitan (We could have given them guidance or an assessment if the sea is safe, and checked their gear),” he said.
The initial investigation showed that the paddlers had no life vests when their boat capsized about 200 to 300 meters from the shoreline of Lingganay Resort in Sitio Tulubhan in Barangay Manoc-Manoc on Wednesday morning.
The 20 paddlers and a steerman managed to swim through rough torrents and hold on to the boat, but only 14 survived.
“Napuno ng tubing ang bangka dahil sa laki ng alon. Ang mga paddlers ay kumapit sa bangka ngunit sa laki ng alon, napahiwalay ang mga ito sa bangka,” Acevedo said.
(The boat was filled with water because of the big waves. The paddlers held on to the boat but because of the size of the waves, they got separated from the boat.)
Acevedo said the survivors managed to swim to the nearest shoreline and were pulled out from the sea by people on pumpboats and rescuers.
“Ang pakay ng ating imbestigasyon ay hindi maghanap kung sino ang may kasalanan. Kailangang matukoy natin ang katotohanan sa nangyari (The goal of our investigation is not to look for who was at fault. We have to determine the truth behind the incident),” he added.
The survivors were identified as Von Navarosa, the team leader; Janice Lumbo; Yhen Aytona; Jaylord Violanda; Edwin Paradai; Marc Sabadao; Lanie Ordas; Kenneth Bandalan; Robel Licerio; Jao Javier Buenaventura; Kathleen Sabadao; Mark Baccay; Julia Kurbaniizova, a Russian; and Maggie Xie, who is Chinese.
Acevedo said the survivors were in good condition when they were released a few hours after receiving medical attention in hospitals and a medical clinic in Boracay.
He said one of the survivors, Navarosa, was brought to a hospital in Kalibo and was still undergoing treatment.
Seven members of the team were declared dead on arrival at the Metropolitan Doctors Clinic in Balabag, Dr Ciriaco S. Tirol Hospital In Balabag, and the Malay municipal hospital in mainland Boracay on September 18.
They are Mark Vincent Navarette, Johann Tan, John Vincent Natividad and wife Maricel, Comar Acob, Richel Montuya, and Rose Antonette Supranes. (READ: Family mourns death of Boracay paddler)
Boat trips have resumed from Caticlan jetty port to Cagban port in Boracay Island, as well as water sports activities. – Rappler.com