4 trekkers rescued after almost 12 hours of getting lost in mountains of Sirao in Cebu City

By: Doris C. Bongcac - Editor/CDN Digital | March 14,2021 - 09:42 AM
A rescuer escorts the four trekkers, who were found at about 5 a.m. on Sunday, March 14, 2021 at Sirao.

The four trekkers were found at about 5 a.m. on Sunday, March 14, 2021. | Photo courtesy of the Cebu City Fire Department

MANDAUE CITY, Cebu — A group of four trekkers, who visited the mountains of Cebu City on Saturday afternoon, March 13, went missing for almost 12 hours after they lost their way in the dark.

The four were found at around 5 a.m. on Sunday, March 14, by rescuers who braved the dark and the rains.

Ian Bustamante, who was interviewed by Ramil Ayuman, in-charge of the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, said that they were trapped when it started to rain and after the water level from a nearby river started to rise.

Bustamante, one of the trekkers, said, they were lucky to have found cellular phone signal which allowed him to call for assistance.

The four – Bustamante, 24; Janielle Barbante, 21; Mark Lester Hirap, 21; and Jennylou Bankali, 22 – worked at Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies.

Ayuman said that the four started trekking at the vicinity of a mall in Barangay Talamban at about 3 p.m. on Saturday.  They walked to the mountain barangay of Budlaan before they reached Sirao.

Bustamante said they started to lose their way when darkness started to fall at around 6 p.m.

Rescuers from emergency groups and disaster response teams in Cebu City search for the missing trekkers in Sirao.

| photo courtesy of Cebu City Fire Department

He said that they called the mother of one of their companions at 8 p.m. to ask for load so they could download a trail app, but it did not help much.

At around  11:48 p.m., they started to call 911 for assistance. The call that was received at the command center in Manila was relayed to the Cebu City Command and Control Center (C3) at 11:54 p.m.

Initial report that was received at C3said said that the four were at the vicinity of Mount Kan-irag in Barangay Sirao.

Ayuman said that he was in communication with Bustamante who managed to share their location.

At about 4 a.m., Ayuman said Bustamante was telling him that he was running out of cellphone battery.  Bustamante also told him “tugnaw na kaayo (its now very cold here).”

In his talk with Ayuman, Bustamante admitted that three of them were first time trekkers but one of their female companions assured them that she knew the trail and acted as their guide.  But they started to have difficulty in locating the trail when darkness came.

Two of the rescued trekkers are escorted to safety after rescuers found them near the Sirao area.

| CDRRMO photo

SFO2 Jun Birao, deputy operations chief of Cebu City Fire Department, said they had difficulty in reaching the area where the four trekkers were.

Birao said they located the group at about 3 a.m.  But were unable to immediately reach them because of the rain and strong water current in the area.  The trail was also very muddy then.

Another team of rescuers who managed to reach the trekkers said that they found them taking shelter near a waterfalls.  They moved to higher grounds after water level in the nearby river started to rise.

Bustamante said they stayed there while they called for help.

Rescuers escort the 4 rescued trekkers to safety.

| CDRRMO photo

A rescuer told Ayuman that the group was unprepared to trek in the dark.  They did not have compass and even flashlights.

Bustamante said they travelled with their rescuers for about two hours, from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. before they managed to reach a safe area.

Ayuman said the rescue was a joint effort by CDRRMO personnel in coordination with the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and personnel of the Sirao Deatchment of Cebu City Mobile Force Company. /dbs

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TAGS: 4 trekkers, Cebu City, Sirao, went missing

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