MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan: The death toll in the drowning incident at the Madlum river in San Miguel town rose to five on Wednesday as rescuers continue to search for the two more students of Bulacan State University (BSU).
The freshmen tourism students were swept away by raging waters triggered by a sudden downpour on Monday afternoon.
Latest reports from the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) said that the body of Janet Rivera was retrieved around 10:20 a.m. several miles away from where the students were swept away by the rampaging current.
Gov. Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado, who cancelled previous engagements to personally lead the search and rescue operations since Tuesday, said still missing were Madel Navarro and Maico Bartolome.
Meanwhile, the four bodies retrieved Tuesday afternoon were identified as Michael Alcantara, Michelle Banzil, Helena Marcelo and Sean Alejo.
In the wake of the accident, Alvarado issued an executive order banning field trips and trekking activities at the said river.
“While the pristine waters within the Biak-na-Bato national park continues to allure tourists, we must not discount the dangers that sudden rains in the mountains could bring,” said the governor adding that warning signs and precautionary measures should be put in proper places to ensure that accidents would not hap- pen again.
Residents in the area said that the river always become “wild and raging” every time heavy rains fall in the mountains of Biak-Na-Bato, where massive extraction of the rare but expensive tea rose marble took place more than four years ago.
The mining of the expensive marble was only stopped when Alvarado assumed post as governor in 2010.
Initial reports received by the PDRRMO said that four buses carrying tourism students of the BSU went on a field trip at the historical Biak-na-Bato caves.
PDRRM Executive Officer Liz Mungcal said that while trekking the river near the Madlum cave, the river suddenly rose and swept away the students.
The river is full of big boulders and limestone that are highly dangerous when the river gets swollen with strong raging current.