Seven members of a Philippine “dragon boat” team were killed Wednesday when their boat capsized off the island of Boracay as they trained for an international race, rescuers and colleagues said.
Large waves swamped and overturned the wooden boat off one of the world’s most famous tropical holiday resorts, killing four male and three female rowers at sunrise, they added.
“There are many rocks in the area so it’s possible that they hit their head on them,” local disaster officer Catherine Ong Fulgencio told AFP by telephone, explaining why they did not survive even though they could swim.
Fourteen other team members, including a Chinese and a Russian woman, were rescued and taken to hospital for treatment, Fulgencio added.
The Filipino victims were training for the Kaohsiung City Cup scheduled for the southern Taiwanese city in November, said team member Remedy Aquino, who was not aboard the boat.
Dragon boat racing is a popular sport in the Philippines and many parts of Asia, where 20 paddlers sit two abreast atop a long wooden 12-metre (39-foot) boat sandwiched by a cox who steers the vessel from the rear and a drummer in front.