• Govt urged to penalize Russian climber rescued on Mayon

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    LEGAZPI CITY: Albay residents are urging authorities to impose sanctions on a Russian who had to be rescued after being stranded on the slopes of Mt. Mayon.

    The rescue of Mark Yuchugaev, 28, came two weeks after four foreigners and their local guide were killed when the volcano spewed hot ash and rocks on May 7.

    Yuchugaev slipped into six-kilometer off-limits zone around Mayon without informing local officials.

    Yuchugaev broke his foot at 1,700 meters and could not walk. It took two days before rescuers helped him down the mountain. The rescue operation cost the authorities P500,000.

    Volcanologists at the Mayon Observatory said the mountains remains off limits to climbers and urged authorities to strictly enforce the order.

    “The government should imposed sanction to these foreigners to teach them a lesson,’ said former Jovillar town mayor Jose Arcangel Jr. “Imagine this Russian national who was already warned of the ban, violated it, and here we are pouring our resources to rescue him alive.”

    Bureau of Immigration and Deportation Bicol officer Joshepus Ojano said they are waiting for the provincial government to recommend sanctions against the Russian.

    Ojano said it is impossible for Yuchugaev not to be aware of the warning imposed by the government following the May 7 eruption.

    A Jerry Bulala from Busay, Daraga town, said he received a text message from the Russian pleading to be rescued.

    Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda ordered three teams to rescue the climber. He was later brought to the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital in Legazpi where doctors attended to his broken leg.

    Yuchugaev boasted to reporters that as soon as he recovers, he would return to Mayon.

    Philippine National Police Bicol spokesman Col. Renato Bataller said the Russian cannot be held for any criminal liability for breaching the danger zone, unless there is a provincial ordinance providing penalties for violators.

    Jerry Bulala of Barangay Busay said he warned Yuchcugaev, who passed by the barangay, “not to proceed that Sunday morning (May 19) because of the ban following the May 7 eruption.”

    Bulala said the Russian pitched his tent near the Cagsawa Ruins but was  gone before noon. “I presumed he proceeded climbing Mayon alone,” said Bulala. “Two days later on Tuesday night, I received a text message from the Russian saying he was wounded and pleaded for a rescue.”

    MANNY T. UGALDE

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