14 missing after Philippines sea collision

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Philippine rescuers were searching Monday for 14 people missing after a local fishing boat collided with a cargo ship, authorities said.

 

The boats crashed early Sunday in waters southwest of Manila, capsizing the Philippine fishing vessel Liberty 5 off the coast of Occidental Mindoro province.

The captain of the cargo ship Vienna Wood, which is registered in Hong Kong, called for help “a few hours later” and the vessel was being escorted to land by the Philippine Coast Guard, said agency spokesman Commodore Armando Balilo.

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It was not immediately clear if the Liberty 5 had sunk.

Philippine authorities deployed aircraft and ships in the hunt for the missing people, who included 12 Filipino crew members and two passengers.

Strong ocean currents interrupted the search Sunday evening, but operations resumed early Monday.

The Philippines has a poor shipping safety record, with scores dying in mishaps at sea each year, usually aboard wooden-hulled outriggers that move people from one small island to another.

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There have also been incidents allegedly linked with maritime disputes.

In June last year, a Chinese fishing trawler hit a Filipino boat near Reed Bank, an area of the South China Sea within Manila’s territory but which is also claimed by Beijing.

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Vietnamese fishermen rescued 22 Filipinos after that collision, which left President Rodrigo Duterte facing accusations of defending Beijing.

Duterte has tried to downplay the case, calling it an “accident” and accepting Beijing’s offer to conduct a joint investigation. 

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