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Lost hikers in Mt. Lanaya rescued

| by: Chad Bacolod

Five hikers were rescued after trailblazing for hours in Mt. Lanaya, Barangay Legaspi, Alegria town on Sunday, August 28.

Jireh Forester, 25, a health officer from Negros Occidental, 24-year-old medical student Reno Nagasan, 24-year-old nursing student John Vincent Brennan, and call center agents Mary Rose Gomos and Jane Arvi climbed Mt. Lanaya Saturday morning but lost track when the fog closed in before reaching Kalo-kalo peak.

Most of the group members have no prior experience in any outdoor climbing activities nor affiliations to any outdoor groups in Cebu.

One of the hikers then dialled 911 and sent a text message to Janice Bequilla, an emergency responder of the Cebu Provincial Capitol.

After receiving the 911 call, Alegria police station informed the local disaster risk reduction management office (LDRRMO) of the town and searched for the hikers.

LDRRMO head Mae Listones coordinated with Malabuyoc LDRRMO and called Dennis Cortes, assistant chief of the Emergency Response- Search and Rescue (ER-SAR) Division of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) who happened to have a training with his team in Badian.

“After I was informed, I immediately dispatched our search and rescue team along with Alegria police to the area and instructed my staff to coordinate with Malabuyoc LDRRMO,” said Listones.

With SAR team’s combined efforts and coordination, the hikers were successfully rescued Sunday evening after long hours of searching through Mt. Lanaya’s treacherous cliffs.

Jane, one of the hikers, recalled how desperate they were to go down when they ran out of water.

“We tried all three directions but it all led to a dead end. We even created our own trail just to go down hoping it would lead us back to where we left our car but still another dead end. We couldn’t go up also because Jireh fell unconscious and in sleep coma,” she narrated.

The hikers suffered hypothermia, dehydration and exhaustion, as well as some minor cuts and bruises. They were immediately brought to Reinhard Wirtgen Hospital for further assessment and treatment.

“I was just so overwhelmed. My faith in humanity is back. I can’t find the perfect word to express how happy we were when they found us freezing cold, hungry, thirsty and tired,” said Jane.

Listones said the hikers ignored the protocol imposed by the barangay to register before the climb and declined to have a guide to accompany them to the peak.

Mt. Lanaya is considered a minor climb by mountaineers but is one of the favourite climbing destinations of neophyte climbers and adventure-seekers in Cebu province. (Chad Bacolod)