Three Filipino fishermen died in the disputed South China Sea after their boat was accidentally hit by a passing commercial vessel, according to the Philippine Coast Guard. The incident occurred when the fishermen’s boat, F/B Dearyn, was moored in a fishing area off the northwestern Philippines. The passing vessel collided with the boat, causing it to capsize and resulting in the deaths of the skipper and two crew members. Three other fishermen on board the Dearyn were able to survive.
At the time of the accident, there were eight other men fishing separately on smaller boats. It is unclear if they were affected by the incident. The Philippine Coast Guard attributed the collision to adverse weather conditions and the darkness, stating that the crew on the mother boat failed to detect the approaching vessel.
The cause of death for the three fishermen is still under investigation. A police report indicated that they may have died from possible head trauma caused by the collision. The bodies of the deceased fishermen were transported back to their hometown in the northern Philippines.
There is no evidence to suggest that the accident is directly linked to the territorial disputes in the South China Sea. The collision occurred more than 150 kilometers northwest of Scarborough Shoal, a fishing atoll that is a subject of contention between China and the Philippines. Recently, tensions escalated after the Philippine Coast Guard removed a floating barrier installed by the Chinese Coast Guard to prevent Filipinos from entering the shoal.
Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. expressed his condolences for the deaths of the fishermen and assured that a Coast Guard investigation is underway. The Coast Guard believes that a crude oil tanker flagged under the Marshall Islands may have collided with the Filipino fishing boat. Efforts will be made to locate the tanker and its crew as part of the ongoing investigation.