Philippine Coast Guard still SAR operations; cargo ship’s captain reported the incident to local authorities.
MANILA – Elements of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) began their search and rescue operations this morning to complement efforts by the local government units of Occidental Mindoro to possibly save 12 fishermen and two passengers aboard fishing vessel FV Liberty 5 after it collided with MW Vienna Wood, a Hong Kong-registered cargo vessel on its way to Australia.
Commodore Armand Balilo, PCG Spokesperson said it was the vessel’s captain who reported the incident to Philippine authorities.
He said a 24-meter PCG vessel, BRP Boracay has already been sent to the vicinity where the incident occurred. Two PCG assets, a BN Islander and an Airbus H145 light twin-engine helicopter has augmented the search and rescue operations this morning.
It was learned the incident took place past midnight Sunday some 17 miles off Mamburao town in Occidental Mindoro about 101.99 nautical miles from Manila. The fishing boat was on its way to Manila from Cagayan de Tawi-Tawi while MV Vienna Wood left Subic Port in Zambales, northern Philippines and was on its way to Australia.
Commodore Balilo said the cargo ship is being escorted by Philippine Coast Guard elements towards Batangas port.
The ill-fated boat was identified by search and rescue operatives but there was no sign of the crew.
The search launched by local government units in Mindoro province had to be suspended last night due to strong waves.
It was learned no survivors have been found yet by search and rescue operatives as of 2:30 P.M.
Over at the Presidential Palace, Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque said the latest incident will not strain the existing relations between the Philippines and China and ASEAN-Philippines and China because it was an accident.
He added inquiries into maritime incidents are comparable with road mishaps.
The incident comes at the heels of the 36th ASEAN Summit hosted by Vietnam where its chair, Viet Nam’s Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc called on all parties to exercise restraint and avoid actions that may add to possible miscalculations and heighten the tension among claimant countries.
This incident also falls just over a year after what has been reported as boat-ramming incident involving a Chinese vessel and a Filipino fishing boat with 22 crewmen while at the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. The fishermen was quoted saying they were left behind by the Chinese vessel and had they not been rescued by Vietnamese fishermen, they would have died. (Melo M. Acuña)
Photos taken by Philippine Coast Guard personnel Sunday afternoon off the coasts of Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro. (PCG Photos)