By Teofilo Garcia, Jr.
ZAMBOANGA CITY – A decapitated cadaver of a man, believed to be that of an international rower, was recently recovered in a remote island of Tawi-Tawi, officials said Saturday (02 May 2020).
Col. Arturo Rojas, commander of the Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi, said the body was recovered by residents on April 24 on the shore of Kinapusan Island, Barangay Nusa-Nusa, South Ubian, Tawi-Tawi province.
Rojas said the cadaver was in a blue diving suit aboard a 24-foot long rowing boat painted with red and blue stripes and labeled with number 88, which was believed to have drifted from the Celebes Sea to South Ubian.
Rojas said the corpse, which was already in the state of decomposition, was immediately buried in the area by the members of Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team (BPAT), while the rowboat was brought to South Ubian Municipal Hall.
Rojas said the 2nd Marine Brigade coordinated with other law enforcement agencies and local government units of nearby municipalities, as well as the Malaysian and Indonesian counterparts, for possible identification of the body.
However, he said that based on recent publications, the recovered body is possibly that of Ruihan Yu, a Chinese national, who was rowing solo across the Pacific.
Yu’s boat had reportedly capsized and communication was lost. It was last spotted from the air at 3:20 p.m. of November 30 last year off the Marshall Islands near north of Taongi Atoll.
Yu had previously attempted to cross the Pacific from California to Australia in 2017 but had to abandon his attempt after his boat suffered a damaged rudder off the coast Hawaii and had to be rescued by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) stationed in Honolulu.
On November 27, 2019, search and rescue mission was reportedly by the USCG utilizing a C-130 aircraft after a 911 call in Missouri from Ann Pang, a friend of Yu’s cousin.
The search and rescue aircraft was dispatched from Hawaii to the Marshall Islands. However, the search was called off after reaching over 120 hours with negative results.
The recovered rowboat is the same as the one posted in the Marshall Islands journal dated December 6, 2019.
“We will provide the needed assistance to the family of Mr. Ruihan Yu if they want to go to Tawi-Tawi to check and verify if indeed it is the cadaver of Ruihan,” said Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom).
“Rest assured that the Yu family and relatives are safe and secured during their visit to Tawi-Tawi,” Sobejana added. (IA/PNA)