BONGAO, Tawi-Tawi, Philippines— A Filipina evacuee who was pregnant with twins died while undergoing a Caesarean section in Sabah on Monday, the provincial health officer here said.
The Filipina was identified as Niharaja Jailana, 31, a native of Zamboanga who had been working in Sandakan for years.
Dr. Sukarno Asri, provincial health officer of Tawi-Tawi, said Jailana and her family had already been on Taganak Island in the municipality of Turtle Islands for days as they waited for vessels to ferry them to Bongao when she went into labor.
Asri said the island’s health workers and the local government decided to transport Jailani back to Sandakan for lack of facilities on Taganak. Moreover, it would have been impractical to take Jailani to Bongao because the 500-kilometer trip, assuming a boat was readily available, would have taken at least 17 hours, Asri said.
Sabah is just about 40 kilometers from the Turtle Islands.
The twins are alive but in a very critical condition, Asri said.
The Philippine Navy earlier sent the BRP Sultan Kudarat loaded with health workers and volunteers from the Department of Social Welfare and Development to Taganak to rescue at least 400 Filipinos stranded on the island after they left their homes in Sandakan as Malaysian authorities continued to flush out armed followers of the Sultanate of Sulu who had occupied a village in Lahad Datu in Sabah.
The vessel, which would have also carried Jailana had the emergency not occurred, was expected to arrive in Bongao on Wednesday morning.