OCCIDENTAL MINDORO, Philippines – Fishing Boat Gem-Ver was left almost completely sunken after a Chinese vessel rammed its rear on June 9.
In a photo obtained by Rappler taken just hours after the assault, the fishing boat is seen only with its tip and its helm, with a small fishing boat on top of its submerged bow. (READ: AFP: Chinese vessel's sinking of PH boat 'far from accidental')
Gem-Ver sailed on May 29, planning to stay at sea for at least 15 days. On its 12th day, the boat was struck by the Chinese vessel midnight of June 9.
According to crew members Rappler had spoken with, some of them were awake and spotted the Chinese metal vessel approaching. They tried to maneuver out of its way, but the ship traveled too fast. A hole was left in Gem-Ver's rear, causing it to sink. (WATCH: How Chinese ship sank Filipino fishing vessel in West PH Sea)
Crew members tried to cover the hole but water gushed inside the boat fast. Then in a final effort to slow down its sinking, the men of the boat tied empty drums they had used up for water and the boat's fuel.
The team was rescued after they spotted a Vietnamese fishing vessel estimated to be 5 miles away from the wreckage. They were turned over to the Philippine Navy on June 10 up until they came back home to San Jose town here on June 14.
Gem-Ver returned to San Jose, Occidental Mindoro on Saturday in better condition than it was found in the middle of the West Philippine Sea after its mechanic fixed it up as they sailed back home.
Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler
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Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.