Trapped in Sagada caves: 30 tourists and guides rescued, 1 missing

By ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
www.nordis.net

BAGUIO CITY – Thirty people; 22 of them foreign and local tourists, were rescued inside the Sumaging Cave of Sagada, Mountain Province where they were trapped by the heavy downpour brought at the height of typhoon Maring on Sunday, August 18.

According to local officials of Sagada, the 13 Japanese students with two Filipino teachers were rescued by volunteers at 5:30 PM Sunday, then five local tourists and eight local guides were rescued at 9:30 PM that day.

Another local tourist, Rodolfo Bendola Jr., from Quezon City, was also rescued at 11:40 PM the same day. He told volunteers that his companion Irene Gonzalez Manaois, 49 years old from Dagupan City, Pangasinan, was taken by strong running water that hit the cave. Bendola was brought to the St. Theodore’s Hospital in Sagada until the staff declared him stable.

Sagada Mayor Eduardo Latawan Jr. led local officials and volunteers on the rescue inside the tourists-frequented Sumaging cave.

The strong rains that morning caused the flash flood inside the cave after 11 a.m. Sunday (August 18), explained Robert Pangod, secretary of Mayor Latawan in a phone interview. He said those who went to the cave earlier came out safely at 11am.

Pangod narrated the rescuers were guided by the loght of the victims’ petromax lamplight, they had to use ropes to reach the trapped victims. Shivering and hungry from exposure the locals took them in and comforted them through the trauma.

The town volunteers ended the search for Manaois at 2 am Monday (August 19) when the rising chilling water level became too deep and the current too strong. They resumed at 7 am or 5 hours later that day and went in slowly as the water subsided, added Pangod.

The local PNP and the Municipal Rescue Team identified the Japanese tourists as all residing in Pampanga, they are: Atsushi Ito, Yoshitaka Onoe, Saika Furukawa, Sakuda Hikaru, Mutsimi Sato, Koichi Sato, Takuto Horita, Ayumi Shimamura, Keitaro Yuda, Sayori Shirai, Yuka Morita, Yuka Nakamura, and Naomi Yusakawa; and their teachers from Pampanga were Nemoza Magsino and Jahnina Pamintuan.

Aside from Bendola, the local tourists were identified as Mark Joseph Delos Santos of Pasig City, Jeffrey Peejay Gunday Alex of Makati, Oliver Dela Cruz Alejandro of Taguig City, May Turisa Palatao of Manila, Vilma Forayong Pusao and Aiza Saliwan Lifano both of Natonin, Mountain Province.

The tourist guides from Sagada were identified as Andrew Cauten Bagni, J-Ford Pangko Calpi, Jet Balonglong Kollin, Laurel Padalla Royo, James Boyoten Luken, Patrick Rigonan and Lexbur Balonglong Kollin.

As of press time, at least 100 volunteers continue the search operations for Manaois. # nordis.net

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