43 Pangasinan fishermen still missing in West Philippine Sea

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan, Oct. 5 (PNA) — A fisherman died while 43 others went missing when the fishing boats they were riding were blown by strong winds and heavy rain during the onslaught of tropical storm “Kabayan” last week.

As of the latest report of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) Monday, the lone fatality was identified as a certain Matong Quintero of Poblacion, Infanta town who was recovered on board FB Joshaina which was earlier reported missing but later recovered while drifting towards Agno, Pangasinan.

There were six other fishermen missing from Infanta on board FB Judith Ann 2; 10 from Dasol on board FV Flores; 14 from Bolinao (seven each on board FB Double J and Queen Michz; and eight on board FB Azekuel Ryan, all of Bolinao and 7 in Agno on board MBCA Reynalyn, FB Triple N and from nine unnamed fishing boats, all from Agno.

All these were among 211 fishermen on board 37 different fishing boats who went out on deep sea fishing expedition in the West Philippine Sea days before “Kabayan” entered the country.

The PDRRMO said 87 of the fishermen were rescued, while 78 safely returned home.

Thirteen of the crewmen of FB Mark Cris Angel were rescued by two foreign vessels, MV Mount Acobashi at about 17 nautical miles north of Bolinao; and MV Energy Atlantic in the vicinity of Laoag City.

Avenix Arenas, PDRRMO spokesperson, admitted this was the biggest number of fishermen in Pangasinan recorded missing in a single typhoon in the history of the province, but clarified that all these were already in high seas when “Kabayan” arrived.

She said there was no gale warning yet when these fishing boats left the shore.

The gale warning was raised only in the afternoon of Oct. 2 while these fishermen were still in mid sea.

Meanwhile, Ret. Army Colonel Fernando De Guzman, PDRRMO consultant, said the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Coast Guard are now combing the West Philippine Sea in a search and rescue operation.

The helicopter “Islander” was deployed in the area in search of the missing fishermen, he said. (PNA)