Bodies of Mayon fatalities foundBy Joanna Los Baños
Inquirer Southern Luzon
LEGAZPI CITY—Army soldiers have retrieved the bodies of four foreigners and one local tour guide killed in Tuesday’s steam and ash explosions on Mayon Volcano and were taking them to a place on the mountain’s slopes where helicopters could land, officials said Wednesday.
Searchers from the Army, the Bureau of Fire and the Red Cross were still looking for one missing person, Thai national Boonchai Jattupornong, said Raffy Alejandro, director of the Office of Civil Defense in the Bicol region. They were being reinforced by more soldiers from the Army and Air Force, he said.
Alejandro said the bodies of the five fatalities were found at 6 a.m. and were being transported to a clear area where the choppers could fetch them for transporting to Legazpi.
Alejandro clarified that 21 persons, not 27 as earlier reported, were climbing Mayon when Tuesday’s steam-driven “phreatic event” occurred around 8 a.m.
Nine of the mountain climbers were injured while six others were rescued unharmed, he said.
Four of the fatalities were German nationals identified as Joanne Edosa, Roland Pietieze, Farah Frances and Furian Stelter. Their guide, Jerome Berin, who worked for Bicol Adventures which organized the climb, was also killed.
Cedric Daep, head of the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office, said the five were found near the crater.
Alejandro said the casualties could have been hit by rocks and boulders dislodged by the steam explosions.
The Thai nationals who were injured were identified as Nithi Ruangpisit, Tanut Ruchipiyrak, Thawiburut Udomkiat and Benjamin Sansuk.
Austrian Sabine Strohberger, the lone foreign survivor from the Bicol Adventures group, also suffered bruises.
Among the locals who were hurt were Bernard Hernandez, Calixto Balunso, Kenneth Jesalva and Nicanor Mabao.
Alejandro said they were coordinating with the German and Thai embassies.
He said that the authorities were hopeful they would complete the retrieval of the bodies and locate the missing Thai by noon.