Eight Filipinos drown after group selfie capsizes birthday party boat

Screen shot from a GMA News report on the tragedy (see below)

Eight members of a Filipino family drowned after they rushed to the side of small boat to take a group selfie.

The tragedy occurred in Binangonan, Rizal, yesterday (Sunday, October 29) afternoon during a birthday celebration.

Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office chief June Hernandez confirmed that the eight, including two children, were killed after their boat capsized at a fishery in Laguna Lake.

The fatalities were Rolino Pareño, aged 43, Weldie Pareño, 42, Neymaret Mendoza, Frederick Orteza, 39, Malou Gimena, 39, Marilou Barbo Papa, 44, Sean Wilfred Orteza, nine,  and Jannah Pareño, two.

Five members of the party, including two children aged 10 and seven, survived.

Speaking to the Inquirer today, Ms Hernandez said: :There was a birthday party so they ate in the boat. While coming back to shore they gathered on one side of the boat to take a selfie together, making it unbalanced.”

However, according to a later report on GMA News, one of the survivors denied they were posing for selfie. Grace Parreño, the mother of the two-year-old victim who also lost her husband and other relatives, said: “If we were taking a selfie the would be in the water, but it is still in the bag.”

The local Coast Guard were on the scene of the tragedy at about 1.30pm and retrieval operations continued for five hours.

Investigators believe some of the victims were trapped between the boat and mire of the fishery and were unable to swim up to the surface or push up the heavy fibreglass hull.

None of the 13 passengers were wearing a life vest. Although the boat operator could be faulted for this lack of foresight, all of the victims signed an affidavit stating they would not sue the operator in case of an accident.

In April, 2016, we reported on another selfie fatality in the Philippines. An Israeli pensioner died after falling down the iconic Banaue terraces while trying to take a selfie.

79-year-old Miraim Tau tumbled about 15ft to her at the Hiwang Native Village Inn in Barangay Gohang, Banaue while leaning out to get the perfect shot.