Search continues for 14 Filipinos missing in boat collision with Hong Kong

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 30 2020 08:09 AM

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MANILA — The search for 14 people missing after a local fishing boat collided with a cargo ship entered its third day on Tuesday, said the Philippine Coast Guard.

The boats crashed early Sunday in waters southwest of Manila, capsizing the Philippine fishing vessel Liberty 5 off the coast of Occidental Mindoro province. The captain of the cargo ship Vienna Wood, which is registered in Hong Kong, called for help "a few hours later", the PCG earlier said.

Rescuers only found tubs of fish in the area on Sunday and no signs of the Liberty 5's 12 Filipino crew members and 2 passengers, said PCG-Southern Tagalog commander Commodore Leovigildo Panopio.

"Patuloy po kaming maghahanap hanggang wala nakikitang may nakalutang po, ang iniisip po namin buhay lahat po at nakarating sa isla po sana," he told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.

(We will continue searching until we find anyone floating. We are assuming that they are still alive and had hopefully reached an island.)

Authorities later Tuesday will inspect the 190-meter Hong Kong ship that was brought to Batangas province for signs of what could have caused the collision, he said.

The Liberty 5 was on its way to the Navotas fish port, while the Vienna Wood was bound for Australia from Subic, Zambales.

The Philippines has a poor shipping safety record, with scores dying in mishaps at sea each year, usually aboard wooden-hulled outriggers that move people from one small island to another.

There have also been incidents allegedly linked with maritime disputes.

In June last year, a Chinese fishing trawler hit a Filipino boat 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.

— With a report from Agence France-Presse