One Korean tourist has died and two hospitalised after a ‘banana boat’ inflatable collided with a motorised outrigger in the Mactan Channel, Cebu, Philippines. The driver of jet-ski towing the inflatable has been charged with ‘reckless imprudence resulting in homicide’.
Banana boat rides are a popular recreation worldwide but safety falls into a gray area, as noted by the UKs MAIB earlier this year. In the Philippines recreational watersports fall under local authorities, Lapu-Lapu City in the latest incident and are unlikely to be aware of developements and recommendations elsewhere.
In the latest incident, the driver of the jetski was distracted by paying attention to riders on the inflatable. When he became aware of the approach of the other vessel it was too later to avoid the collision between the inflatable and the other vessel.
Two self-evident issues arise: the driver was required to divide his attention between the passengers on the inflatable and the safe navigation of the jetski. The MAIB recommends that an observer be on the towing vessel to monitor the passengers, thus allowing the driver to pay full attention to his task.
A second issue is that passengers should be required to wear safety helmets. This might have saved the life of the fatality.
Neither requirement is a provision in local authority regulations with regard to watersports.