The Philippines says three fishermen have died after a foreign vessel collided in the South China Sea

Philippine Coast Guard

Survivors come ashore in Pangasinan province after a clash in the South China Sea on October 3.



CNN

The Philippines is investigating the deaths of three Filipino fishermen after a collision with a “foreign” vessel in the Philippines. South China SeaOfficials in the country said Wednesday.

The Philippine Coast Guard reports that the Philippine fishing boat FFB Dearyn was struck near Scarborough Shoal at 4:20 a.m. Monday.

11 crewmen survived the accident and used their own service boats to reach land on Tuesday morning, ferrying the dead – including the captain – to Pangasinan province in northern Luzon, the country’s largest island, the coast guard said.

X In an earlier post on Twitter, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the coast guard was “retracting and checking all monitored vessels in the area as part of an ongoing investigation.”

“We assure the victims, their families and everyone that we will make every effort to hold those responsible for this unfortunate maritime incident accountable,” Marcos said.

He also asked all parties to refrain from indulging in speculation while the investigation is ongoing.

In an update on Wednesday, the coast guard said it would approach an oil tanker registered under the flag of the Marshall Islands, which may have been in the area at the time of the incident, based on marine traffic data and witness accounts. Survivors.

Based on information gathered by authorities, the tanker came from South Korea and was heading towards Singapore, Rear Admiral Armand Balilo told CNN affiliate CNN Philippines in an interview.

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Balilo said an oil tanker was in the area at the time of the collision and authorities were still gathering evidence.

The South China Sea is a 1.3 million square mile waterway that is vital to international trade, with over a third of the world’s shipping worth a trillion dollars passing through each year. This means that large container ships and oil tankers regularly travel through the region.

The sea has vast rich fishing grounds, many lives and livelihoods that mostly use small vessels.

Up to 85 percent of all maritime accidents are the result of navigational hazards and poorly regulated business practices, which endanger shipping and undermine the security environment, said John Bradford, international affairs fellow for the Council on Foreign Relations in Indonesia.

Such incidents are more common in Southeast Asia, where the groups are often mistreated and undertrained, he added. Information Fusion Center In Singapore, 1,882 people died or went missing at sea in the first half of 2023.

“Sometimes collisions, even fatal ones, are not reported due to lack of trust in the authorities or fear of prosecution for collision or other activities. It speaks to an overall management problem,” Bradford said.

Philippine Coast Guard

Photos released by the Philippine Coast Guard show the scene in Barangay Cato on October 3.

The South China Sea is a major maritime flashpoint of concern.

Blocked by China And many Southeast Asian countries, parts of the sea are claimed by multiple governments, with Beijing asserting ownership of nearly all waterways, defying an international court ruling.

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Over the past two decades, China has occupied several obscure reefs and coral reefs across the South China Sea, building military installations including runways and ports.

Scarborough Shoal, known as Bajo de Masinloc in the Philippines and Huangyan Island in China, is a small but strategic reef and fishing ground 130 miles (200 kilometers) west of Luzon that is a major source of tensions between Manila and Beijing.

Richard Heidarian, a senior lecturer in international relations at the Asia Center of the University of the Philippines, said that while the incident did not implicate China directly, regional conflicts may have had an indirect impact.

“The truth is that China is structurally culpable for what’s happening because of China’s bullying and various ways of preventing Filipino fishermen from accessing traditional fishing grounds. What’s happening here is that (Filipino fishermen) are pushed farther out to sea,” Haydarian said.

The area has seen frequent skirmishes between Philippine vessels and small wooden fishing boats between large Chinese coast guard vessels and what Manila says are shadowy Chinese “maritime militia” fishing vessels.

In 2016, an international tribunal in The Hague ruled in favor of the Philippines in a major maritime dispute, concluding that China had no legal basis to claim historic rights to much of the South China Sea. Manila says Beijing has ignored the ruling.

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