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Lost at sea for days, woman rescued on Christmas Day

Roel Pareño - Philstar.com
Lost at sea for days, woman rescued on Christmas Day

In this photo made from video by Aclimah Disumala, Friday, Dec. 22, 2017, villagers ross raging flood waters in Lanao del Norte, Zamboanga Pennisula, southern Philippines. A tropical storm has unleashed flash floods and set off landslides in the southern Philippines leaving dozens of people dead. Aclimah Disumala via the AP

ZAMBOANGA CITY — A woman was rescued Monday off Antique by a passing international cargo ship, surviving her four-day ordeal as she kept afloat on a piece of debris detached from her house in Antique.

Diana Salim, 25, was swept by the massive flash floods in Sibuco, Zamboanga del Norte due to the battering of Tropical Storm Vinta last week.

The cargo vessel spotted Salim at sea at 3 a.m. on Christmas Day 900 kilometers north of her hometown.

The rescuers immediately coordinated with the Philippine Coast Guard, and she was taken to a hospital in Antique for treatment for dehydration and sunburn.

Salim was among the thousands affected by the onslaught of Typhoon Vinta, which hit parts of Mindanao, the southern island of the Philippines. The deadly cyclone which triggered heavy rainfall and floods left hundreds dead, scores missing and hundreds more stranded.

Villagers whose towns were inundated and homes wrecked spend Christmas in shelters.

Lost at sea

Allan Tagala, a member of the Kabalikat Sibicom radio club in Antique, learned that the victim was from Sibuco town and contacted to RMN DXRZ radio here and informed about the rescue of the cyclone victim.

Still in shock, Salim told local radio broadcaster DXRZ that she was still with famil members inside their house in Barangay Anungan when the rampaging flood waters slammed into their home on Friday night.

"My family and I were inside the house preparing (for evacuation) when a massive flood swept our house," Salim, who was still emotional, recalled in the local tongue.

Anungan is a small coastal fishing village isolated by river estuary and tributary 12 kilometers away from the town proper of Sibuco and only accessible by water.

The rushing waters tore apart Salim's house, which was made of light materials such as bamboo and wood. She managed to hold on to detached parts of her house as the waves and strong winds sent her to sea.

"(There was) nothing to eat. I could only drink rainwater," she said.

Salim still does not know what happened to her parents and the rest of her siblings.

Flicker of hope

Sibuco mayor Norbideiri Edding said the Coast Guard will soon faciliate the transfer of Salim.

In this photo made from video by Aclimah Disumala, Friday, Dec. 22, 2017, villagers carry cross raging flood waters in Lanao del Norte, Zamboanga Pennisula, southern Philippines. A tropical storm has unleashed flash floods and set off landslides in the southern Philippines leaving dozens of people dead. Aclimah Disumala via the AP

"Diana's rescue kept our hopes up that we will see others alive," Edding told the radio station.

Edding said Salim's family is still counted among the missing in the aftermath of Typhoon Vinta, as authorities shift their operations from search and rescue for the alive to retrieval of the dead.

"But... after the rescue of Diana, there could be some still alive," Edding said.

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