Tourist still missing in cave-A A +A
By JM Agreda
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
SEARCH operations continued on Tuesday for the 49-year-old woman from Dagupan in Pangasinan who went missing last Sunday at Sumaguing Caves in Sagada, Mt. Province.
Rescuers had a hard time finding the whereabouts of Eufrocinia "Irene" Manaois who was swept by floods after underground water swelled during the height of monsoon rains over the weekend.
Sagada Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer Robert Pangod said they resumed search and rescue operations at 10 a.m. Tuesday as they assessed the exact location of the missing tourist.
The operations were halted at 5:20 p.m. Monday when rescuers had difficulty penetrating the cave. Some of the rescuers lack the technical expertise to explore other cave chambers, Pangod said.
Pangod expressed fear that the tourist has already drowned in the pool since the cave is some 154 meters deep notwithstanding the effects of hypothermia and other external factors.
He said there is also the possibility of the missing tourist falling in any of the two underground pools, which is regularly 10 to 15 meters deep but could go even deeper during the rainy season.
Pangod said they hope to get Manaois out of the cave alive.
He said interiors of the popular tourist site Sumaguing Cave has no crevice or elevated portion inside where a trapped tourist may take refuge except on one elevated portion where the 30 tourists took refuge prior to their rescue last Sunday.
Office of Civil Defense (OCD) – Cordillera reported all rescued tourists are now discharged of the hospital except for Rodolfo Bendola Jr., who is still recovering at the St. Theodore's Hospital in Sagada.
Sagada Mayor Eduardo Latawan Sr. requested the assistance of OCD to provide professional divers to assist the SAR operations. He said divers will have to inspect the natural pool inside the cave.
Pangod, meanwhile, said they will have to wait until Wednesday for professional divers of the Philippine Navy since local divers cannot see through the murky waters of the cave.
Some 13 Japanese nationals rescued were identified as Atsushi Ito, 30; Yoshitaka Onoe, 23; Saika Furukawa, 21; Sakuda Hikaru, 28; Mutsimi Sato, 30; Koichi Sato, 33; Takuto Horita, 28; Ayumi Shimamura, 25; Yuka Morita, 31; Yuka Nakamura, 32; and Naomi Yusakawa, 30 Keitaro Yuda, 35 and Sayori Shirai, 23.
Other rescued tourists include teachers based in Pampanga identified as Nemoza Magsino and Jahnina Pamintuan.
Tourists from Metro Manila were identified as Mark Joseph de los Santos Santos, 24, of Pasig City; Jeffry Alex, 21, of Makati City; Oliver Alejandro, 25, of Taguig City; and May Palatao, 24, of Manila.
Eight other local tour guides have returned to their homes safely as they have not sustained any injury, the local DRRM officer reported.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on August 21, 2013.