2 foreigners rescued after being swept away by strong currents off Apo Island

January 31, 2018 - 8:06 AM
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Swayam Rawla and Matthew La France (photo by Juancho Gallarde, PNA)

DUMAGUETE CITY, Philippines — Two foreigners who were swept away by strong currents after scuba diving near Apo Island in Dauin, Negros Oriental, were rescued Monday night, nine hours after they were reported missing.

Dumaguete Philippine Coast Guard station commander, Lieutenant Junior Grade Donna Liza Ramacho, said they were about to suspend their search for Canadian Matthew La France, 41, temporarily residing in Lipayo, Dauin, and Swayam Rawla, 30, an American of Indian ancestry staying at the Dumaguete Spring Hotel in Dauin, because night had fallen when they received word a cargo vessel bound for Iloilo City had rescued them.

A crew member of the M/V Fortune Gold heard cries for help and the two foreigners were located after a 25-minute search 11.8 nautical miles southwest of Apo Island, ship captain Ricare Hibalay said. He said strong current would have carried the two further south to the Mindanao Sea had they not been found.

Hibalay took the foreigners to Dumaguete, arriving there around 2:45 a.m. Tuesday.

La France, a dive instructor of Dumaguete Divers dotcom, said their dive boat failed to pick them up at the designated place and time Monday afternoon so they tried to swim back to Apo Island but the strong currents swept them away.

Ramacho said they have initiated a formal investigation to look into the claims of the divers.