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Body of tourist in CDO white water rafting accident found

The body of a female tourist who went missing last Friday after a white water rafting accident along the Cagayan de Oro River was recovered Sunday, according to a television report.

A GMA "News TV Live" report said rescuers found the body of Aizza Mae Balbin floating with her life vest still on near the part of the river where the inflatable boat she and three others were riding capsized.

Dan Kaamino, spokesman of Kagay Journey-White Water Rafting and Kayaking, said in an interview with Mariz Umali that Balbin’s body was trapped under a boulder. Rescuers had to use a carabiner to lift the body up since the river’s undercurrent was too strong for divers to recover it.

Kagay Journey-White Rafting and Kayaking runs the rafting tour on the Cagayan de Oro river.

Vener Monsanto, head of the Cagayan de Oro Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) earlier said the missing tourist's companions were rescued by rafting guides from Kagay.

Accidents always a possibility

Despite the tragedy, Mayor Oscar Moreno has not suspended the company’s operations since he understood that Balbin’s death was an accident, Kaamino said.

“The mayor understands that this [was] an isolated case. We still operate at may rafting pa rin,” he said.

Balbin’s death was the first accident in the river since Kagay began its commercial rafting operations in 1995.

Even though tourists take several safety precautions prior to riding a raft, Kamino said the possibility of an accident occurring in white-water rafting tours always remains.

“We can’t control nature. Kahit gaano ka ka-trained, may mga accidents na nangyayari in the wilderness. Posible na mangyari ang ganito,” he said.

Kagay noted some thrill-seekers prefer to go on a white-water rafting adventure when the water currents are stronger than usual.

“The more na malaki ang water, mas mabuti ‘yung thrill at adventure kaya marami nagra-rafting kapag mataas ‘yung water pero hindi naman doon sa point na delikado na yung [taas] ng river,” he said.

To reduce the chances of another accident happening, Kagay is planning to hold more training sessions for its rafting guides so they can assist tourists better.

The training may be conducted by experts in extreme sports from New Zealand, Kagay said.

“Even though we’re used to the river, there’s extra knowledge na kailangan naming makuha through training,” he added. — Xianne Arcangel/JDS, GMA News