DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines—A crew member died while 14 others were declared missing when a foreign vessel sank in the West Philippine Sea off Bolinao, Pangasinan, on Saturday night, reports from the Philippine Coast Guard said Sunday.
A report by Lt. Patricio Kintanar, command duty officer of the Coast Guard’s northwestern Luzon district, said the MV Arita Bauxite, a vessel displaying the Myanmar flag, encountered engine trouble and sank 17 nautical miles (31 km) northwest of Cape Bolinao at about 11:30 p.m.
The report said that of the vessel’s 24 crew members, nine were rescued by a passing Chinese vessel, the MV Jin Cheng.
The rescued crew members were on two life rafts. Two of them were hurt while the others were in “good physical condition,” the PCG said.
The PCG did not identify the crew members or say where the vessel was headed.
Chief Petty Officer Ricardo Abalos, deputy commanding officer of the PCG station in Sual, said the incident may have happened past 12 a.m. on Sunday.
Abalos said his station received the report about the vessel’s sinking at 3:30 a.m.
Kintanar’s report, which was sent to the Office of Civil Defense in the Ilocos region, said the rescued crew members were still aboard the
Chinese vessel on Sunday afternoon and were waiting for medical evacuation.
Abalos said that at 7:30 a.m. Sunday, his station dispatched a group to render assistance and conduct search-and-rescue operations.
PCG personnel from Bolinao also joined the search.
Fred Castelo, municipal administrator of Bolinao, said a fisherman reported to him on Saturday afternoon the presence of a slow-moving ship marked “Myanmar” in the area where the sinking took place.
“I advised him to report it to the Coast Guard because we have no capability to conduct rescue operations in the high seas,” Castelo said.
Abalos said the distressed ship fired a rocket signal to the MV Jin Cheng, which prompted the passing vessel’s duty officer to report the sinking to Chinese authorities.
Reports said the PCG was coordinating to board the MV Jin Cheng to assist the victims and render medical assistance.
The PCG also sent a Notam (Notice to All Mariners) to all ships and watercraft passing through the area where the vessel sank, asking them to be on the lookout for the missing crew members.—Yolanda Sotelo and Gabriel Cardinoza
Originally posted: 2:40 pm | Sunday, February 17th, 2013