By Mar S. Arguelles
LEGAZPI CITY --- At least 21 passengers of a motorized banca that capsized on Saturday, July 14, were rescued to safety by disaster responders off the coastal waters of Sta. Magdalena and Bulusan towns in Sorsogon, an official of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Bicol reported.
Disaster officials are still determining the identities of the survivors according to Akim Berces, OCD operation specialist, said.
Berces in a phone interview said the incident occurred at around 4:15 p.m. Saturday when a motorized banca with markings “Nonon” overturned due to strong waves off the waters at Sitio Suki, Barangay San Rafael in Sta. Magdalena, Sorsogon province.
Berces, quoting report from Sta. Magdalena Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO) said the banca with 21 passengers were bound for Tikling Island in Matnog, Sorsogon from Capul Island in Northern Samar.
He said disaster officials are still determining whether the passengers of the ill-fated banca were tourists on an island tour.
Berces said all the passengers were rescued at around 1:00 a.m. Sunday. They were rushed to the Matnog District Hospital for medical treatment.
Search and rescue operations were initiated by responders from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the MDRRMOs of Bulan, Matnog, Bulusan, and Sta. Magdalena, as well as the provincial DRRMO.