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Philippines says fishermen died in South China Sea collision

October 4, 2023

Authorities in the Philippines are investigating a ramming incident in the South China Sea that has left three fishermen dead.

Rescuers carry the body of one of the victims as it arrives at a port in Infanta, Pangasinan province, Philippines.
Rescuers carry the body of one of the victims as it arrives at a port in InfantaImage: Philippine Coast Guard/AP Photo/picture alliance

Three Filipino fishermen have died after their boat was "rammed" by a foreign commercial vessel while it was moored in the South China Sea, the Philippine Coast Guard Said on Wednesday.

The incident took place before dawn on Monday about 160 kilometers (100 miles) northwest of the disputed Scarborough Shoal, off the Philippines' main island of Luzon, in waters Manila officially designates as the West Philippine Sea.


Bad weather at the time of crash — coast guard

"The mother boat submerged, resulting in the death of its three crew members, including its boat captain," the coast guard said in a statement, adding that 11 other crew members survived.

"Due to the adverse weather conditions causing darkness, the crew on board the (Dearyn) failed to detect an unidentified vessel approaching, resulting in a collision that caused (it) to capsize," the coast guard said.

Meanwhile, the Philippines said that it was probing the incident.

"We assure the victims, their families, and everyone that we will exert every effort to hold accountable those who are responsible for this unfortunate maritime incident," President Ferdinand Marcos Jr said in a statement on the X social media platform.

"The incident is still under investigation to ascertain the details and circumstances surrounding the collision between the fishing boat and a still unidentified commercial vessel," Marcos added.

Philippines, China tussle in the high seas

The Scarborough Shoal lies in disputed waters with both China and the Philippines laying claim.

It was the center of a military incident between the two nations in 2012, following which China summarily occupied the reef.

In 2016, a court ruled that Beijing's  historical rights to the area were invalid but China does not recognize the ruling.

dvv/kb (AFP, dpa, Reuters)