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Philippine Coast Guard Rescues Teen Trapped in Underwater Cave

TAGBILARAN CITY, Philippines (Reuters) – Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) special operations divers rescued a teenage girl trapped for seven hours in an underwater cave in Bohol province, officials said on Thursday.

The rescue operation in Antequera town came after two other teens were earlier saved from the cave pool, while a 28-year-old man died attempting to rescue his 15-year-old sister, one of those trapped.

PCG divers PO3 Jonas Hongayo and PO2 Raffy Drilon arrived at the scene around 10:30 p.m. local time on Wednesday. They navigated through a narrow, 8-meter long underwater passage to reach the victim, who was found clinging to a small ledge in an air pocket.

“She was weak, and the air was stinky,” Drilon told Reuters. “I had to use my secondary mouthpiece to spray oxygen into her face, so she could regain strength.”

The divers made multiple attempts to guide the girl out, facing challenges due to her panic attacks and depleting oxygen supplies. They eventually succeeded by providing her with chocolate and water for energy, and using a makeshift air duct to supply oxygen to the chamber.

Local disaster management officials reported that the incident began when a group of friends were swimming in the cave pool. Three of them, including the rescued girl, failed to return after exploring deeper into the cave.

The PCG was called in after local rescue teams, lacking proper equipment and underwater cave rescue protocols, were unable to reach the girl.

An investigation into the incident and the earlier failed rescue attempt that resulted in a fatality is ongoing, local authorities said.

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