Facebook saves lives of 29 mountaineers
    Trapped in Mt. Pinatubo crater

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    PORAC, Pampanga- Thanks to Facebook, 29 mountaineers who were trapped in the crater of Mount Pinatubo which they climbed last Saturday were able to relay to their relatives in Metro Manila their need for rescue.

    Porac Councilor Mark Valencia, who was among those who were first alerted about the case, told Punto that at about noon yesterday, the trekkers were already on their way to meet rescuers from the local municipal disaster coordinating council and the local police who left the town hall for rescue operations at about 4 a.m. earlier.

    “Except for three of them, including two women and a man who suffered from sprained feet, our report says all the trekkers were fine,” Valencia said.

    The identities of the mountaineers were not immediately available, but Valencia said they were experienced adventurers residing in Metro Manila. “They had a Porac resident who helped them organize their trek last Saturday morning,” he said. Porac Mayor Carlito de la Cruz said the trekkers apparently ignored procedures by proceeding with their trek without permission from the local government.

    Valencia said that through Facebook, the trekkers were able to notify their relatives in Metro Manila about their need to be rescued.

    “The relatives then contacted the National Risk Reduction and Disaster Management Coordinating Council (NDRRMC) which in turn alerted us about the case,” he said.

    He said the trekkers told their relatives that they had sought shelter somewhere within the crater of Mount Pinatubo where they decided to spend the night starting last Saturday after landslide covered the same route they used for climbing along the Pasig-Potrero River,” he noted.

    As of noon yesterday, the rescuers who were on foot still had to reach the mountaineers who were also on their way down to meet them after skirting the landslide on the slopes, Valencia added.

    Valencia said a Huey helicopter from the Philippine Air Force based at Clark Freeport was dispatched to pick up the injured mountaineers needing medical attention.

    Trekkers to Mt. Pinatubo are required to seek permission from local governments around the volcano. Most trekkers start from Barangay Sta. Juliana in Capas, Tarlac from where the trek is smoother than those in other areas.

    Earlier this year, mountaineers from the University of the Philippines were also rescued from being trapped on the slopes of Mt. Pinatubo after they also trekked to the crater without permission from the local government of Capas.

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