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Samar boat explosion: 6 human remains recovered
TACLOBAN CITY – The government search team has retrieved six human remains in the coastal waters of Samar province since the August 22 explosion of a motorboat believed to be carrying suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA).
On Friday, government troops recovered four human remains from the waters off the towns of Tarangnan and Sto. Niño in Samar, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Joint Task Force (JTF) Storm Commander Maj. Gen. Edgardo de Leon said on Saturday.
The search team retrieved two male corpses afloat in the coastal village of Baras in Tarangnan at about 9:00 a.m.
An hour later, a body part was found in Barangay San Vicente, Libacun Daku, also in Tarangnan.
The search and retrieval team consisted of personnel of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Tarangnan municipal police, Samar maritime police, JTF Storm, and Tarangnan municipal disaster risk reduction and management office.
The decomposing remains were brought straight to the municipal cemetery and were blessed by a priest before being buried at the Tarangnan Municipal Cemetery.
JTF Storm spokesperson, Capt. Ryan Layug said the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Samar Provincial Forensics Unit – Scene of Crime Operations team conducted a post-mortem examination before the burial.
Meanwhile, at about 2:30 p.m., local police reported that the remains of a woman were retrieved from the seawaters of Buenavista village in Sto. Niño, Samar.
“Locals dragged the body towards the shore and reported to the town’s quick response team. The municipal health officer and sanitary inspector decided to immediately bury the remains in a public cemetery,” de Leon said.
It was observed that most of the retrieved cadavers had ruptured upper portions.
Layug explained that this could have been because of the configuration of boats typical in Samar, where the luggage area is normally at the level of passengers, whether seated or standing inside the boat.
“The NPA members who were then transporting explosive components could have placed their stuff on that portion of the boat. There’s a huge possibility that the detonated explosive components transported by suspected NPA members hit their upper bodies since the trajectory of the blast was upward,” he said.
Also on Friday, de Leon flew aboard an S-71 “Black Hawk” to see first-hand the area where the search-and-retrieval operation was ongoing.
“Spotting and retrieving these cadavers is not an easy task as these drifted to faraway locations due to the current. But with the help of our fishermen, we were able to see and retrieve them. The remains are already in an advanced stage of decomposition, and we decided to bury them immediately for health and sanitation reasons. As of today (Friday), a total of six human remains were retrieved: three males, two females, one undetermined,” he said.
The search team found the first human remains – the lower part of a woman’s body – near the shoreline of Tarangnan town center on August 23.
On August 25, fishermen in Tarangnan found the floating headless body of a man on the shore of Libucan Gote in Tarangnan.
Soldiers, coast guard, and police personnel had been doing search-and-retrieval operations along the waters of Samar province since August 22 after government security forces chased a suspicious boat reportedly carrying explosives but were fired upon by its passengers.
A firefight ensued off the waters of Canhawan-Guti village in Catbalogan, followed by an explosion.
Unconfirmed reports claimed that Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)–NPA–National Democratic Front (NDF) Chairman Benito Tiamzon, his wife Wilma, the group’s secretary general, and other communist personalities were among the passengers of the motorboat that exploded. Philippine News Agency