MANILA, Philippines–The Philippine Coast Guard is conducting search-and-rescue operations for 45 fishing vessels and their over 300 crewmen reported missing off the coast of southeastern Mindanao amid the onslaught of Typhoon “Pablo” in the region early last week.
The PCG headquarters in Manila in a report on Monday quoted Commodore George Ursabia, head of the command’s Southeastern Mindanao District, as having said that the vessels “lost their communication with local authorities at the height of the typhoon.”
Ursabia also said “16 other fishermen were rescued in various places (in the same region) while four others were confirmed dead.”
The Coast Guard did not identify the survivors and the fatalities.
“Two vessels belonging to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, both manned by Coast Guard personnel, are still in the area and have joined the PCG in conducting search-and-rescue operations,” he added.
Meanwhile, four canine teams have been dispatched to Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental by the PCG to help local authorities search for hundreds of missing residents in the typhoon-devastated areas, Rear Admiral Luis Tuason Jr., PCG officer-in-charge announced Monday.
“The PCG’s sniffing dogs are capable of detecting persons buried several feet under the ground,” Tuason noted.
He also reported that the BRP Davao del Norte, a PCG patrol ship, “will sail back to Cateel, Davao Oriental, to deliver relief goods intended for typhoon victims.”
In a related development, seven crew members of two Palawan-based fishing boats survived the sinking of their vessels on Dec. 5 off Barangay Nagtalula in Dumaran town.
Reports reaching the PCG said the MB Razel and MB Hazmin were “transiting the said area when they encountered strong winds and big waves, causing their boats to capsize.”
The surviving fisherfolk were identified as Rodrigo Zosa, Junny Canones, Elmer Asombradfo, Sonny Asombrado, Renny Asomborado, Charlie Magne, and Fernan Delfino, all residents of Barangay Looban in the municipality of Araceli, also in Palawan.
The fishing boats were returning to Araceli from Barangay Baccao im Dumaran, when the accident happened.
In Bolinao, Pangasinan, the PCG detachment in the area has appealed to local fishermen to help in its search-and-rescue operation for fisherman Apolonio Buccat, who was reported missing on Dec. 8.
“Buccat, 46, went fishing around 6 a.m. about one kilometer from the shoreline of Barangat Ilog in Bolinao, but failed to return home,” the PCG reported.