‘Rescue diver’ drowns in Iligan river

Roxanne Arevalo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 24 2017 12:09 AM | Updated as of Jan 24 2017 03:06 AM

ILIGAN CITY – An Iligan City resident drowned Sunday afternoon after he volunteered to search for a missing boy who was lost during the flooding in Barangay Suarez last week.

A resident said they told victim Rene Bongalan not to join the search operation after they noticed that he was half-drunk. He dived into the river anyway.

Bongalan, who had no professional diving training, did not resurface.

Rescuers were able to pull the unconscious Bongalan from the water and bring him to the riverbank.

Bongalan was rushed to the hospital where he was later declared dead.

Iligan City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office head Jed Ebenezer Bernabe said there should have been no retrieval operations in the first place. 

Bernabe explained that the divers’ safety, even when they were sober, are put to risk when there is low to zero visibility under water. It had been raining the past days and the river water is still muddy.

“They should have called for professional rescuers or at least called us for instructions on how to revive the victim,” Bernabe said.

Bongalan’s neighbors appeal for help in giving the victim a decent burial.

Residents said the search operations were stopped after the incident. 

The Philippine Coast Guard, on the other hand, continued its search for the missing boy in open sea.