‘Pablo:’ 300 fishermen missing?

Edwin Espejo
The dead are believed to be fishermen and crew members of tuna catcher vessels

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GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – At least 300 fishermen are feared to be missing 3 days after Typhoon “Pablo” smashed into Mindanao, according to the former president of the South Cotabato Association of Fishing Federation and Allied Industries (SAFFAI).

Marfenio Tan, former president SAFFAI, said they are still trying to locate a missing tuna catcher vessels (unay) that usually have a complement of at least 3 light boats and at least one service boat, also called a fishing set or fleet.

Aside from this missing fleet, another General Santos-City based tuna catcher said they could still not establish contact with the rest of his fishing fleet.

Commodore George Ursabia of the Philippine Coast Guard said the Mindanao Development Authority has listed at least 28 fishing vessels that are still unaccounted for with a crew of at least 117 fishermen.

Tan estimates that 300 fishermen, mostly tuna catchers, may be missing.

A total of 4 fishermen were also confirmed dead while 19 were rescued, local authorities said.

Survivors said waves as high as 30 feet pounded their vessels.

Sources said among the General Santos City fishing company that have lost contact with their fishing vessels are THIDCOR, RGL and Rugela Fishing.

The owners however declined to give further statements.

Tan said he has already asked the Philippine Coast Guard and the Philippine Navy to launch search and rescue operations, but the area where the tuna catching vessels were last monitored is already more than 120 nautical miles from Mati, Davao Oriental.

Pablo is the strongest typhoon to hit most parts of northern and eastern Mindanao with gales of up to 175 kilometers per hour (kph) and gustiness of over 220 kph.

The typhoon ravaged several provinces and left behind more than 200 dead as of late Wednesday afternoon. – Rappler.com