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Death toll in Bulacan drowning climbs to 6

Dino Balabo (The Philippine Star) - August 21, 2014 - 12:00am

MALOLOS CITY, Philippines – The death toll in Tuesday’s drowning incident in Bulacan climbed to six after rescuers found the bodies of two more students yesterday.

Jeanette Rivera of Calumpit was found at past 10 a.m. while Mary Magdalene  Navarro of Hagonoy was found before 2 p.m., the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office said.

The Bulacan State University (BulSU) observed a day of mourning yesterday for the students who drowned in a river in San Miguel town.

Four of the victims were retrieved minutes after the incident, which occurred in Balaong River in Barangay Sibul.

The four were identified as Helena Marie Marcelo of Malolos City, Mikhail Alcantara of Calumpit, Sean Rodney Alejo of Obando and Michelle Ann Rose Bonzo.

As of press time, authorities were still looking for Maiko Eleva Bartolome.

The victims, who were first year tourism students, were on a field trip at the Madlum Cave when the incident occurred at around 3 p.m.

They were reportedly crossing the river when the water rose suddenly and swept them away.

BulSU president Mariano de Jesus vowed to investigate the incident and suspended the holding of any team-building activities outside the campus.

San Miguel Mayor Roderick Tiongson said he would also stop tour activities in Madlum Cave.

Tiongson said a similar tragedy occurred in Balaong River in 2004, which killed tourists from Malabon.

In both accidents, Tiongson said the water rose suddenly and teh current became torential.

He said such incidents occur in the river from time to time, adding he barely escaped a flash flood when he was in fourth grade.

Citing reports, De Jesus said the water was only two feet deep when the students started crossing the river.

He said the first rush of water pushed the victims down. The students and their tour guide were about to get up when another wall of rushing water swept them away. The tour guide was able to save two students.

As this developed, relatives of Bartolome are still hoping she is alive.

Nicar Villamor, a sister of Bartolome, said they were initially informed that her sister was in a hospital.

As of yesterday morning, Maiko was listed as missing. – With Ric Sapnu

BALAONG RIVER BARANGAY SIBUL BARTOLOME BULACAN STATE UNIVERSITY DE JESUS HELENA MARIE MARCELO OF MALOLOS CITY JEANETTE RIVERA OF CALUMPIT MADLUM CAVE MAIKO ELEVA BARTOLOME MARY MAGDALENE MIKHAIL ALCANTARA OF CALUMPIT
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