Fourteen Filipinos went missing after a fishing boat collided with a Chinese cargo vessel in the waters off Cape Calavites, Occidental Mindoro before dawn on Sunday, June 28, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Southern Tagalog reported to Rappler.
According to PCG spokesperson Commodore Arman Balilo, the said cargo ship was identified as MV Vienna Wood registered in Hong Kong, a select administrative region of China.
The Vienna Wood collided with F/V Liberty Cinco at around 1 am on Sunday. Fermin Soto, general manager of the boat owner Irma Fishing and Trading, told DZRH radio Sunday night the ship left the badly damaged boat in the middle of the sea.
Irma Fishing and Trading started to search for the boat after it failed to meet its scheduled radio call to port and did not arrive at Navotas Fish Port when it was expected at 7 am.
The company tasked its other boats to the perimeters of the Liberty Cinco’s last reported location off Cape Calavite in Occidental Mindoro. It was then that other fishermen told the crew of the Liberty Cinco’s sister boats of the collision, Soto said. They also found tubs and other items from the boat marked “Irma” floating on the water.
They found the capsized boat at around 10 pm. However, its 12 fishing crew and two other Irma employees onboard the Liberty Cinco were nowhere to be found.
In the early afternoon, PCG was able to locate and board Viena Wood. They asked about the collision and the missing Filipinos. The ship’s crew, who were communicating in Chinese in the end, said they did not know about the Liberty Cinco or its team.
PCG divers inspected the capsized boat at around 4 pm, but there were still no signs of the missing crew. The divers reported there was significant damage on the boat, especially in the middle section, Soto said.
Soto said in the DZRH interview that the PCG also noticed some damage to the Vienna Wood’s prow, which might indicate the angle from which it hit the Liberty Cinco.
The Department of Foreign Affairs meanwhile said, “We need to verify the details of the incident first.”
The search and rescue operations resume today, June 29.