21 rescued at sea

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Monday, March 24, 2014


A GROUP of 14 foreigners and seven Filipino crewmen on board a motorboat were rescued by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) close to Friday midnight at Sohoton Point in Cauayan, Negros Occidental.

No one was injured, and they were brought to Iloilo City Saturday morning, said Glen Daraug, commander of PCG-Bacolod Station.

Daraug said one of the boat’s outriggers was damaged due to strong waves while they were on their way to Oslob, Cebu, from Antique.

Areas in southern Negros, including Cauayan, were placed under Signal No. 1 Friday afternoon due to Tropical Depression Caloy.

Daraug said the foreigners, which included nine French and two Swiss nationals, a German, a Spaniard and a Mexican, were scuba divers on a diving adventure in various areas across the Visayas.

Along with the Filipino crewmen, they were stranded at the territorial waters of Sohoton Point, about eight nautical miles from Cauayan town proper.

All 21 passengers waited for almost eight hours in rough seas before the Coast Guard found them.

The group’s distress call was intercepted by the Bantay Dagat of the neighboring Sipalay City, which then deployed a team to rescue the group. The team, however, were forced to return to shore because of bad sea condition.

Daraug said they contacted an oil tanker, MT Francis Charles, which was on its way to Dipolog and happened to be near Sohoton Point, to assist the stranded foreigners and Filipinos waiting for the Coast Guard to arrive.

They sought assistance from the oil tanker, he said, because it may take some time for the dispatched vessel of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources being manned by the Coast Guard to reach the distressed vessel.

Western Visayas Regional Director Rosario Cabrera of the Office of the Civil Defense said the three foreigners who were the organizers of the diving adventure and seven crew members opted to stay on the boat and safely sail to Sta. Ana Bay, Nueva Valencia, Guimaras with two Coast Guard personnel providing assistance.

Upon their arrival in Iloilo City, the rescued foreign tourists underwent physical check-up.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on March 25, 2014.

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