A training run for a dragon boat team from Boracay in Aklan turned into tragedy when their boat capsized near the island, killing seven of its 21 members Wednesday morning.
The Boracay Dragon Force Team, reportedly gearing up for an international competition in Taiwan, was practicing off Sitio Lingganay in Barangay Manoc-Manoc when the boat was hit by strong waves, tipping over the boat at around 7:40 a.m.
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) confirmed that three female and four male bodies were retrieved.
The rest of the team, seven women and seven men, survived.
Based on the report from the regional Philippine National Police Maritime Group, the fatalities were identified as Mark Vincent Navarete, Omar Arcob, Maricel Tan, Yohan Tan, Richel Montoya, Antonette Supranes, and John Vincent Natividad.
Thirteen of the survivors were identified as Mark Baccay, Jaylord Violanda, Robel Licerio, Marc Sabado, Oathleen Sabado, Kenneth Bandalan, Julia Kurbaniizova, Maggie Xi, Xhen Autona, Lani Ordas, Janice Lumbo, Jao Buenaventura, and Edwin Paradas. Brig. Gen. Rene Pamuspusan, director of the Western Visayas regional police, said they were rescued by local rescue teams shortly after the incident.
Captain Armand Balilo, Coast Guard spokesman, said no one wore life vests during the training. He, stressed, however, that dragon boat training is not covered by the PCG’s regulations on life vests.
“The regulation on wearing life vest only covers passenger boats because dragon boat athletes are usually strong swimmers. I haven’t seen a dragon boat team that wears life vest and they only usually do their routines near the shore. That’s really part of their training, especially when preparing for a competition,” Balilo said.
“Based on our initial investigation, the boat overturned because of strong waves,” said Patrolman Jason Bilbao, investigator of the Malay Police Station in Aklan.
“The strong water current and big waves caused the boat to immediately sink,” he added.
“We are still clueless what went down there. We are even wondering but we are already checking. We are still waiting for the comprehensive report while the investigation is under way,” Balilo said.
It was furthered explained that dragon boat team need not to secure permit when conducting a training.
“They do not need to secure a permit when they train. They just inform the Coast Guard about their activities. That’s a normal routine,” Balilo stressed.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) will provide financial assistance to the families of the seven members of the Boracay Dragon Boat team who perished in the accident, POC president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino announced this after learning of the incident after the POC General Assembly Wednesday morning at the Conrad Hotel.
“This is a very sad, and tragic incident. All we can do is condole with the families and loved ones of the deceased and try and give some help to them.”
Tolentino said the POC will coordinate with the families and give P10,000 to each family from the POC and another P10,000 as his personal donation.