At least 14 persons, including the ship captain, were reported missing after their fishing boat collided with a Hong Kong-flagged cargo vessel off the coast of Occidental Mindoro, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said on Monday.
The collision between the MV Vienna Wood of Irma Fishing and Trading Company and the cargo vessel of the semi-autonomous Chinese territory happened Sunday about 15 miles from Paluan town, said Occidental Mindoro Governor Eduardo Gadiano.
A strong current interrupted the search on Sunday evening, said Paluan disaster officer Albert Dimaano.
Nearby towns were notified of the incident in case the 14 missing Filipino fishermen wash up on their shores, said Gadiano.
The PCG’s patrol boat BRP Boracay conducted search and rescue operations in Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro.
Its Islander plane, as well as an additional rescue team from Batangas, also joined the search and rescue operations.
The cargo vessel was on the way to Australia from Subic while the fishing boat, which came from Cagayan de Oro and Tawi-Tawi, was on its way to the Navotas Fish Port when they collided.
The PCG is already escorting the cargo vessel to Batangas.
On June 9 last year, a Chinese fishing trawler hit and sank a Filipino boat more than 300 kilometres further to the southwest near Reed Bank, an area of the South China Sea within Manila’s territory but which is also claimed by Beijing.
Vietnamese fishermen rescued 22 Filipinos after that collision, which left President Rodrigo Duterte facing accusations of defending Beijing. Duterte has tried to downplay the case, calling it an “accident” and accepting Beijing’s offer to conduct a joint investigation./Stacy Ang