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Sagada cave opens for tours as search for tourist continues

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01:41 AM September 15th, 2013

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September 15th, 2013 01:41 AM

A TOURIST guide rests on a flatbed stalagmite inside the popular Sumaguing Cave of Sagada town. RICHARD BALONGLONG/INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON

SAGADA, Mt. Province—The Sumaguing Cave in the tourist town of Sagada is now open again to visitors, but residents are not giving up on the search for Eiren Manaois, a tourist who was swept away by rampaging waters inside the cave during a typhoon last month.

Mayor Eduardo Latawan Jr.  said the cave was reopened to tours after rescue workers and soldiers involved in the search declared that Manaois’ body was no longer in the area.

“We did not declare that the search operation is finished,” the mayor clarified. “Everyone involved in the search agreed that that she is no longer inside the cave.”

Manaois, a resident of Pangasinan province, and 30 other tourists were trapped inside the cave when monsoon rains caused the underground river to surge and flood portions of the tunnels on Aug. 18.

She was last seen being dragged away by the raging waters as the tourists, among them Japanese students, were rescued on Aug. 19.

Latawan said Sagada residents and volunteers from neighboring towns helped search for her for nine days, along with policemen, soldiers and divers sent by the Philippine Coast Guard.

He said the rescuers helped drain three underground pools inside the cave so they could dig through the mud beneath, hoping to find a trace of Manaois.

On Aug. 28, search teams concluded that Manaois is no longer in the cave, he said. The search has since shifted to upland rivers where the underground waters lead to.

Latawan said cleansing rituals, originally scheduled on

Aug. 28, were performed simultaneously in various dap-ays (assembly areas for  elders and villagers) on Aug. 30. On Sept. 1, the caves were reopened to tourists. Kimberlie Quitasol, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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