2 French tourists dead as 'Kiko' batters Luzon


Posted at Aug 07 2009 05:31 PM | Updated as of Aug 08 2009 01:31 AM

MANILA - Six people, including two French tourists, died after being trapped near the Pinatubo mountain area in Capas town, Tarlac province, police reported Friday afternoon.

The French tourists (not Canadians as earlier reported by local authorities) found dead were identified as Cholet Martine and Steyleman Waler.

Police said the four other fatalities were Filipinos. Two of them were identified as trek guide Orlando Fernando, and village watchman Fidel Reyla, who was part of the search and rescue team for the mountain climbers.

Chief Superintendent Leon Nilo dela Cruz, Central Luzon regional police director, said search and rescue operations continued for one missing French tourist identified as Caillot Thierry.

Dela Cruz said nine foreign tourists were rescued and brought to the hospital. He identified the rescued tourists as French nationals Araga Radjon, Le Guvader Beatrice, Bazin Dudier, Navarre Philippe, Guinebert Philippe and Fouchard Marie France. Korean nationals Han Chung, Xang Hua and Han Sany were also rescued.

The French were earlier mistaken by local authorities as Canadian nationals. However, a further check on the victims' identities revealed that they were French nationals, the police director said.

Military rescue

Lt. Col. Gerry Samudio of the Philippine Air Force earlier said they sent a military rescue team to Barangay Sta. Juliana in Capas town after receiving a distress call from the group of tourists He said two Huey rescue helicopters were dispatched to locate the missing trekkers.

Samudio said police and volunteers from several villages in Capas joined the search and rescue operations.

The National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) said that the foreign tourists and their guides, who came from Angeles City in Pampanga province, were supposed to visit a tourist spot in the Pinatubo area on board three 4x4 trucks.

The NDCC said one of the trucks carrying Martine, Waler and Thierry overturned while crossing a river. The three foreigners and their guides were swept by the strong current of the river and went missing.

The foreigners' bodies were found in Barangay Sta. Juliana's river.

The incident happened as typhoon Kiko (international codename: Morakot) was battering Northern Luzon provinces with rains and strong winds. The typhoon intensified late Thursday.

As of 11 a.m., typhoon Kiko was located 350 kilometers north northeast of Basco town, Batanes province, packed with maximum sustained winds of 175 kilometers per hour and gustiness of up to 210 kph.

It was moving west northwest at 156 kilometers per hour.

Weather bureau PAGASA has hoisted storm signal No. 1 over Batanes, northern Cagayan, Apayao and Ilocos Norte.

The weather bureau has also spotted a low pressure area near Northern Luzon. It said the typhoon and the low pressure area will bring more rains over Luzon and Western Visayas.

3 dead in Baguio, 2 in Zambales

Senior Superintendent Nestor Gergonia, Baguio City Police Office chief, meanwhile, said brothers Michael, 13; Edu, 12; and Chris, 7, all of the Tiska family, died after their home in Camp 8 along Kennon Road was hit by a landslide at 12:30 a.m. Friday.

Rescuers have retrieved the bodies of the victims.

The NDCC, meanwhile, has confirmed that a couple died in a flashflood that hit Botolan town in Zambales province.

Zambales Governor Amor Deloso earlier said his office received a report Friday morning that the couple's bodies have been found.

Botolan Mayor Roger Yap said the town's council has placed the town under a state of calamity.

Yap said 10 villages have been submerged in 4-foot to 5-foot-deep floods after the Bucao River overflowed late Thursday. The villages were Paudpod, San Juan, Batonloc, Carael, Tampo, Paco, San Miguel, Binig, Bangan, and Capayawan.

Undersecretary Anthony Golez, spokesman of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), said the heavy rains were caused by the southwest monsoon and enhanced by the typhoon.

Golez said more than 3,000 people have been evacuated from the 10 flooded villages in Botolan. He said the affected villagers were evacuated in three centers in a nearby town.