Three Filipino fishermen killed in ramming incident in South China Sea

Coastguard identifies foreign vessel that was in the area at the time and plans to board it at next port to investigate

A boat sets out from a port on the Philippine island of Luzon. Eleven crew members survived after their fishing vessel was rammed by a foreign vessel about 160km north-west of Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. Reuters
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Three people have died after a Philippine fishing boat was rammed by an unidentified commercial vessel in waters off a disputed shoal in the South China Sea.

Eleven crew members survived the incident, which took place early on Monday about 160km north-west of Scarborough Shoal, the Philippine coastguard said on Wednesday, citing details from a survivor.

In a separate post on X, formerly known as Twitter, the coastguard said a foreign vessel was involved in the incident.

The fishing vessel was moored to a floating device known as a payao that is used to catch fish.

“The mother boat submerged, resulting in the death of its three crew members, including its captain,” the coastguard said.

The other crew members used smaller fishing boats to retrieve the bodies and took them to Infanta municipality in Pangasinan province, on Luzon island.

A crude oil tanker called the Pacific Anna, which is registered under the flag of the Marshall Islands, was in the area at the time of the incident, the coastguard said, after cross-checking the fishermen's account of the incident with marine traffic.

The coastguard said the vessel would be boarded by authorities at its next port.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr said on social media platform X, formerly Twitter, that those responsible for the collision would be held accountable while the victims’ families would be assisted.

“Let us refrain from engaging in speculation in the meantime,” Mr Marcos said.

The shoal is at the centre of recent tension between the Philippines and China, with Manila saying last week that it took out a barrier installed by China in the area.

However, Beijing said it removed the structure as it claims sovereignty over the area.

With reporting from agencies

Updated: October 04, 2023, 4:43 AM