Fishermen of Barangay Kalinawan in Binangonan, Rizal were the first responders in the rescue and retrieval efforts for the passengers of the commercial passenger boat that overturned in Laguna Lake killing close to 30 persons on Thursday, July 27. Barangay Kalinawan Chairman Virgilio Cerda told Manila Bulletin that the place of incident was only around 100 meters away from the shore of his village prompting his co-villagers, majority of whom are boatmen, to rush to the scene of the incident upon seeing the hull of M/B Princess Arya, a passenger boat, protruding from the water and a few people swimming to the shore shortly around 1 p.m. on Thursday. Cerda said several boatmen tried to help in bringing the boat to its correct position in their attempt to rescue most of the passengers who were trapped in the overturned motorized boat. ![Binangonon Rescue2.png]( ###### (Photo from Taga Isla Ako-Talim Island's Facebook page) ###### The village leader said as of past 7 p.m. on July 27, rescue personnel, including members of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), temporarily called off the rescue and retrieval efforts since darkness would prevent them from safely doing their operation. According to Cerda, there were 29 fatalities and 39 survivors based on the statements he gathered from the Coast Guard and the local rescue personnel at the scene of the incident. However, a police report released by the Rizal Police Provincial Office, showed that there were 40 survivors and 21 fatalities as of 8:04 p.m. on Thursday. Cerda told the Manila Bulletin that two male survivors said they were sitting on the rear portion of the boat outside the canopy before it turned to its side, making it easy for them to swim away from the watercraft. He said among the fatalities were a boy and a girl whose relative was also among those who perished in the boat tragedy. Cerda said the two survivors narrated to him that most of the passengers panicked after they felt a sudden lurch during a strong wind followed by a huge current prompting them to rush to the left side of the boat that made the water craft turn to its side before it overturned, trapping most of the passengers. Some of the survivors said they were not wearing life jackets during the incident, although they saw some of the life saving device inside the boat. Videos on the lake accident which were posted by netizens on social media sites showed that the cadavers that were retrieved had no life jacket on. Some of the fatalities were brought to their island villages while the cadavers of the others  remained unclaimed in some hospitals and funeral parlors in Binangonan. Island residents told Cerda that the boat might be overloaded since boat travel that was suspended by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) due to typhoon Egay was reinstated after midnight on July 26. Some of the recovered commodities, mostly food products, kerosene and other grocery items, were brought to Barangay Kalinawan’s hall for safekeeping. The PCG said there were around 70 passengers who were on board the ill-fated boat.

Source: Manila Bulletin (