Tourist missing as raft capsizes in Cagayan de Oro River

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Saturday, June 14, 2014

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (Updated) - A tourist who had gone white water rafting with friends has reportedly been missing after the raft she was on capsized in one of the rapids in Cagayan de Oro River around 2 p.m. Friday, June 13.

Chisum Factura, one of the owners of Kagay Journey-White Water Rafting and Kayaking, said Azzi Calipusan Balbin, who was part of a group of eight tourists, went missing after the raft she was on with four others overturned while negotiating one of the rapids in the beginners section of the course.

Factura said they are doing everything possible to locate Balbin, 26.


Factura said the three other guests and one river guide managed to float to safety and were pulled into another raft. He added that the eight guests were on board two rafts with a trained river guide in each.

The three guests are now in their hotel after being given first aid.

He said about 20 river guides swooped at the accident site around 3 p.m. to help search for the missing guest.

After Mayor Oscar Moreno has been informed, he has immediately mobilized the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (CDRRMC) to help in the search and rescue efforts.

Red Cross volunteers, a doctor and four paramedics from Rescue 411, a local volunteer group, have also converged on the accident site where an ambulance is on standby.

"We are committing all our resources in this effort and we hope the missing guest will be found safe and sound," Factura said.

No report yet

Retired Colonel Verneer Monsanto, CDRRMC and Oro Rescue team chief, said that his office got the call in the afternoon and dispatched a rescue team composed of seven persons around 3 p.m. Friday.

“We were told a person who fell off from the raft went missing,” Monsanto told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro by phone Friday evening.

This is the first time that Oro Rescue has been called to assist in searching and rescuing a person involving whitewater rafting.

“It is the team leader’s call. We have to consider the condition of the area. If it is too cold, or it is raining and the available lighting,” he said referring to how long the search and rescue would last.

Cancelled rafting tours

Factura said they are cancelling all white water rafting tours scheduled today, June 14, to focus on the rescue efforts.

Kagay is one of six outdoor outfitters that offer white water rafting tours, a sport popular to tourists coming to Cagayan de Oro City.

The number of guests generally spike on weekends. This is the first accident since 1995 when white water rafting first became a popular recreational activity in this city.

Guests are given an orientation before embarking on a rafting trip to brief them on the perils of the activity. They are also told what to do when the rafts capsize and made to wear safety gear such as life vest and a helmet.

Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had been made the poster girl of white water rafting to help popularize it as one of the tourism destinations in the region. (JB R. Deveza/With reports from Grace Cantal-Albasin)

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on June 15, 2014.

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