Three Filipino fishermen die in the South China Sea after their boat was hit by a passing commercial ship | spcilvly

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Three Filipino fishermen died in the disputed South China Sea after their boat was accidentally struck by a passing commercial vessel, the Philippine coast guard said Wednesday.

The fishing boat, F/B Dearyn, was moored in an offshore fishing area off the northwest Philippines when it was hit before dawn Monday by the passing boat and capsized, killing its captain and two members of the crew. crew. Three other fishermen aboard the Dearyn survived, the coast guard said.

Eight other men were fishing separately aboard smaller boats at the time of the accident, authorities said.

Due to adverse weather conditions and darkness, “the crew aboard the mother ship were unable to detect that an unidentified vessel was approaching, resulting in a collision that caused the mother ship to capsize,” the coast guard said.

It was not immediately clear whether the three fishermen died from injuries from the collision or drowned. A police report said they died due to “possible head trauma” from the collision. Their bodies were taken to their hometown in the northern Philippines by the three surviving fishermen and several other companions.

There was no indication that the deadly accident was related to long-simmering turf wars on the busy waterway.

The coast guard said it happened more than 150 kilometers (93 miles) northwest of Scarborough Shoal, a fishing atoll fiercely contested by China and the Philippines. The dispute over Scarborough erupted recently after the Philippine coast guard said it had removed a floating barrier installed by the Chinese coast guard at the mouth of the sandbar to prevent the entry of Filipinos.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. expressed sadness over the deaths of the fishermen and said a coast guard investigation was underway.

“We assure the victims, their families and everyone that we will make every effort to hold those responsible for this unfortunate maritime incident accountable,” Marcos said in a statement.

An initial assessment based on the accounts of surviving fishermen and shipping traffic at the time of the accident indicated that a Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker may have collided with the Philippine fishing vessel, the coast guard said in a statement.

The Philippine coast guard said it would try to locate the tanker and its crew as part of the investigation.

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