MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Fourteen Filipinos went missing in the waters off Cape Calavite, Occidental Mindoro, after their boat collided with a Chinese cargo vessel before dawn on Sunday, June 28, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Southern Tagalog confirmed to Rappler past midnight Monday, June 29.
PCG spokesperson Commodore Arman Balilo later identified the cargo ship as MV Vienna Wood registered in Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China. (READ: PCG search on for missing fishermen who collided with Hong Kong-flagged ship)
The Vienna Wood hit the F/V Liberty Cinco at around 1 am on Sunday, and left the badly damaged boat adrift, Fermin Soto, general manager of the boat owner Irma Fishing and Trading, told DZRH radio on Sunday night.
Rappler has reached out to Soto, but he has yet to respond to queries as of this posting.
The company started searching for the boat after it missed its scheduled radio call to port, and failed to pull into the Navotas Fish Port when it was expected at 7 am.
The company ordered its other boats to the vicinity of the Liberty Cinco’s last reported location off Cape Calavite in Occidental Mindoro. There, other fishermen told the crew of the Liberty Cinco’s sister vessels of the collision, Soto said. They also found tubs and other items from the boat marked “Irma” scattered on the surface of the water.
The boat’s capsized hull was spotted at around 10 am, but there were no signs of the 12 fishing crew and two other Irma employees who had been onboard the Liberty Cinco.
The PCG located and boarded the Vienna Wood in the early afternoon and asked its crew about the missing Filipinos. The coast guard had difficulty communicating with the Chinese-speaking crew, who in the end said they did not know about the Liberty Cinco or its crew.
PCG divers arrived to inspect the capsized boat at around 4 pm, but did not find the missing crew. There was major damage on the boat, with the middle section of its hull badly caved in, Soto said, citing the report from the divers.
The PCG noticed some damage on the Vienna Wood’s prow, which might indicate the angle from which it hit the Liberty Cinco, Soto said in the DZRH interview.
The dive search was called off at around 5:30 pm, when it began to get dark. It will resume on Monday morning, June 29, PCG Southern Tagalog told Rappler.
The company’s other boats remain in the vicinity of the incident, on the lookout for their colleagues, Soto said. He called on other fishermen in the area to help search for the missing crew members.
When reached for comment, the Department of Foreign Affairs said, “We need to verify the details of the incident first.”
On June 9 last year, Chinese fishing vessel Yuemaobinyu 42212 hit Philippine fishing boat Gem-Ver while it was anchored on Recto Bank off Palawan. The Chinese vessel left Gem-Ver’s 22 Filipino crew members adrift at sea. They were later rescued by a Vietnamese fishing boat. – Rappler.com