MANILA (UPDATED) — Local fishermen have discovered suspected rocket debris, painted with the Chinese flag, in waters off Calintaan, Occidental Mindoro this week.
Calintaan MDRRMO head Joven Gequinana said fishermen found 2 pieces of debris in waters off Calintaan last Monday, Nov. 7, and Tuesday, Nov. 8. The pieces of debris were towed to the shore of Barangay Poblacion.
Pictures provided by Analyn Flores Victoriano showed the debris bore a painting of the Chinese flag.
Local officials, police, and the Philippine Coast Guard are set to meet Wednesday to discuss plans on what to do with the debris.
In July, debris from a rocket that was launched in China landed in Philippine waters in an uncontrolled re-entry, the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) said.
Last month, PhilSA advised the public to be on the lookout for falling rocket debris following the Oct. 31 launch of China's Long March 5B from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan Island.
The rocket was carrying the Mengtian laboratory module for the Tiangong space station, a research facility being built by China in orbit.
Chinese authorities said "expected unburned debris" may fall 72 kilometers from Bajo de Masinloc (Drop Zone 1) or 39 kilometers from Busuanga, Palawan (Drop Zone 2).
PhilSA has urged the public, particularly fishermen, to refrain from touching the rocket debris they might find floating in the sea as these could pose health risks, including exposure to toxic chemicals.
In a statement, the military's Western Command spokesperson Maj. Cherry Tindog confirmed it had received information about the debris.
Tindog said the debris "did not cause any casualty and does not pose any danger."
"At present, appropriate inter-agency action is ongoing to ensure its proper disposition," the official added.
When asked if the recovered debris came from China's rocket launch on Oct. 31, Tindog said it has yet to be determined by the PhilSA.