7 Mindanao fishermen found, search continues for 64 othersBy Franklin Caliguid, Orlando Dinoy
BUTUAN CITY, Philippines—The Philippine Coast Guard continued to scour the rough seas off Surigao City Friday in search of three fishermen missing since the previous day, but elsewhere in Mindanao local authorities reported rescuing seven fishermen whose boats had also been destroyed by a squall much earlier.
Thursday’s sinking of the three Surigao fishermen’s boat brought to at least 64 the number of people, mostly fishermen, still missing in various parts of Mindanao as a result of floods and storm surges brought on the the southwest monsoon and the passage of Tropical Storm Butchoy.
Lt. Joel Simo-ag, station commander of the Coast Guard in Surigao del Norte, said the search for the three missing fishermen was concentrated near Basul Island, where their fishing boat sank in heavy seas on Thursday.
“Our surface search is continuing. So far we found no signs of life but we are not giving up,” Simo-ag told the Inquirer.
Simo-ag said the search team was also scouring adjacent islands, where the fishermen might have swam or been washed ashore.
Meanwhile, in Digos City, Davao del Sur, a team from the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported finding alive the seven fishermen missing since Monday amid heavy rains and big waves.
Rey Caballero, CDRRMC chair, said the fishermen were plucked from waters off Don Marcelino, Davao del Sur, late Thursday.
He said the fishermen held on to what remained of their boats as they drifted toward the open sea for three days without food or water.
Caballero said the fishermen were now recuperating from their ordeal.
In Sarangani province, an official said the search for 61 fishermen still missing after getting caught in bad weather on Monday was continuing.
Ben Solarte, action officer of the provincial disaster risk reduction and management council, said teams from the Philippine Navy and Philipine Coast Guard were scouring Sarangani Bay in search of the fishermen.
More than 270 other fishermen had been rescued earlier as they struggled to stay afloat in rough seas.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said Friday that more than 18,000 families were evacuated to safer ground following floods triggered by low pressure area off Mindanao that eventually developed into Tropical Storm Butchoy.
Benito Ramos, NDRRMC executive director, told a local radio station that local officials were directed to monitor the situation in their areas and to enforce evacuations if needed as Butchoy entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility.
“We advised them to undertake precautionary measures in their respective areas of responsibility and subsequently advised local DRRMCs to initiate preemptive evacuation of families in low-lying and mountainous areas if situation warrants,” he said.
Pombaen Karon-Kader, assistant social welfare secretary of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said they talked with education officials for the use of schools as evacuation centers, especially in areas worst-hit by the floods.
“We have enough stocks of food supplies,” she said.
(Reports from Franklin Caliguid, Orlando Dinoy and Jeoffrey Maitem, Inquirer Mindanao)
Originally posted@ 2:22p.m.