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SEARCH AND RECOVERY | Coast Guard resumes search for missing after sea collision
June 30, 2020 , 10:32 AM

By Manny Mogato, News5 editor-at-large

(June 30, 2020) – The Philippines resumed aerial and sea search in waters off Mindoro for the second day for a dozen fishermen and two passengers of a fishing boat which sank after a collision with a bulk carrier, a coast guard commander said on Tuesday.

Leovigildo Panopio said a plane and a vessel will return in waters off Paluan town in Occidental Mindoro to look for any survivors after the search was called off Monday night due to choppy waters.

“We are hoping they are still alive and reached nearby island,” Panopio told a radio interview. “When we arrived in the area, we saw debris but there were no signs of life.”

Panopio said they received a distress message around 3 am on Sunday but were able to send a search and rescue ship at break of day.

The fishing boat was on its way to its homeport in Navotas to deliver 4,000 tons of fish catch from Mapun island in Tawi-tawi when it collided with an empty Hong Kong-flagged bulk carrier. It came from Subic and was on its way to Australia.

Panopio said the bulk carrier, including its 20 crew, was impounded in Batangas pending investigation. “There were indications there was a head-on collision based on initial inspection of the ship,” he added.

Fermin Soto of Irma Fishing said they were expecting the fishing boat to arrive around 10 am on Sunday but learned about the incident earlier when another fishing boat informed them about the collision.

It usually takes three days from Tawi-tawi, the fishing ground, to Navotas, the home port, he said. The fishing boat was considered a carrier transporting fish catch from the fishing ground to the market in the capital.

The fishing boat has 12 crew and two other passengers who are also employees of Irma Fishing. Most of the crew members are residents of Palawan and their families had been informed.

“We are talking with local officials in Occidental Mindoro hoping the crew made it to shorelines in Mamburao, Paluan and even in nearby Lubang island,” he said, adding they have not given up finding them.

Last year, a fishing boat was rammed and sank by a Chinese vessel in Reed Bank but all 22 fishermen were rescued after six hours by a Vietnamese fishing boat.

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