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ILOCOS NORTE, Philippines – The temporary closure of the public beach in San Juan town in La Union province has been lifted as weather conditions in the area have improved.
In an executive order on Friday, December 29, Mayor Artuto Valdriz said he had lifted an earlier order which temporarily closed the beaches to residents and tourists and suspended water activities.
“After careful assessment and monitoring, it has been determined that the gale warning has been lifted, and the levels of waves have significantly lowered, posing no imminent threat to public safety,” according to Valdriz.
He also cited that the earlier gale warning issued by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration has been lifted.
Normal beach and water activities in the town can now resume, except in the parts of the sea which covers the coastal barangay of Panicsican, added Valdriz.
The rough waters at the town’s public beach had claimed the lives of four people between December 26 and 27, including three individuals who went missing when fierce currents pulled them underwater.
The bodies of the three who went missing were all retrieved on December 28, the provincial disaster risk reduction and management office (DRRMO) said.
Valdriz said that the Philippine Coast Guard and teams from the local police, and provincial and municipal DRRMOs, and barangays have been asked to increase the patrolling of the coastal areas in the municipality.
The provincial government also declared a “Red Alert” in the province during the holiday season.
“Tourism establishments shall provide precautionary reminders to their guests, especially with regard to beach safety,” added Valdriz.
San Juan, a town around 282 kilometers north of Metro Manila, is known for being a surfing capital, and for its laid-back and relaxing vibes and vibrant nightlife.
It was earlier reported on December 26 that tragedy struck a family after two cousins were swept away by strong currents while they were playing at the seashore along the beach traversing Taboc village in San Juan.
The police said the two kids, whom they identified as Donairey Laygo, 12, and Zhary Yeisha, 9, were residents of Kibungan, Benguet.
Investigators said that Laygo was found by a San Juan resident lying unconscious along the seashore. There were attempts to revive him, and he was brought to a nearby hospital but was declared dead on arrival.
Yeisha, however, remained missing, with authorities still conducting search-and-rescue operations.
Additionally, two individuals from a group of six from Baguio City are still missing after they went swimming on Wednesday, December 27, at a portion of the beach along Urbiztondo village in San Juan town, according to the police on Thursday, December 28.
The police identified the missing victims as Jedie Bangsail, 19, and John Brix Bello, 20.
Before the incident, Bangsail and Bello were swimming with four others when all of them were pulled underwater by fierce currents, the police said.
All four, except Bangsail and Bello, struggled and were able to go back to safety, investigators said.
Also in La Union, a 16-year-old boy died after he tried to save his three companions who were caught by fierce currents while swimming along a beach in Bauang town.
During the same period in 2022, Coast Guard teams increased patrolling the public beach along the border of La Union’s capital city of San Fernando and San Juan town after a series of drowning incidents due to rough waters had also occurred in the area over the holidays. – Rappler.com