Authorities on Wednesday (May 4) confirmed that they have recovered the bodies of five children, ages 7 to 12, who drowned in Taal Lake in Balete, Batangas on Tuesday.
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) identified the fatalities as Sherin Ashtrid Dela Rosa, 8; Jaime Rose Ann Jacutan, 12; Kurtney Prian Presas, 8; Rodney Mark Dela Rosa, 7; and Kiel Zackary Pasaron, 10.
The victims, all cousins, reportedly went for a swim off the coast of the lake in Barangay Sala before noon Tuesday when a witness observed that they suddenly disappeared.
Local authorities and Philippine Coast Guard divers immediately launched a search-and-rescue operation. They were able to recover the bodies of two of the victims on Tuesday afternoon and the other three on Wednesday morning.
One of the kids’ bodies was retrieved around 5:05 p.m. Tuesday at 10 meters away from the shoreline in Barangay Looc. Another was found 10 minutes later in the same location.
Search and rescue operations resumed on Wednesday morning and authorities recovered another body at around 7:45 a.m, and another at 7:50 a.m. At 9:47 a.m., search and retrieval teams found the last victim in the area.
Police Staff Sergeant Rafael Aranda, the case investigator, said that the victims were at the lakeshore for an outing with their families.
“The victims were the first group to arrive aboard a tricycle, which immediately returned to Lipa to fetch the others. No elders were with them,” the police said on Wednesday.
Aranda noted that the particular shore of Taal Lake near the river delta has long been prohibited for swimmers.
“The spot is dangerous,” Aranda said, adding that warning posters were placed in various spots in the area.
Meanwhile, the mayor of the town said that the prohibited area will be padlocked to prevent the public from going to the area, barangay officials said.
Pola Rubio is a news writer and photojournalist covering Philippine politics and events. She regularly follows worldwide and local happenings. She advocates for animal welfare and press freedom.
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