Vietnamese media reports rescue of 'hungry, quivering' Filipino fishers

Vietnamese media reports rescue of 'hungry, quivering' Filipino fishers
F/B GIMVER 1 was anchored when a Chinese fishing vessel collided with it. The Filipino-crewed boat sank.
Wikimedia Commons / Notthebestusername

MANILA, Philippines — The owner of the Vietnamese boat that rescued 22 Filipinos after what Manila now calls an allision with a Chinese vessel near the Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea has talked to Vietnamese media about the rescue.

The Vietnamese version reported by Saigon Times bolsters accounts by the Filipino fishermen even as the Palace says a formal investigation is needed to find out what really happened.

READ: Palace unsure of Filipino fishers' account on Recto Bank incident 

Saigon Times cites a report on VnExpress, a Vietnamese-language news website with an international edition in English, that says Ngo Van Theng, 54, from Tien Giang province, has confirmed that it was his boat that rescued the Filipinos, whom the Chinese vessel reportedly abandoned after the incident.

Theng said his boat's captain, Nguyen Thanh Tam, told him that they were at anchor "in the waters off Vietnam's Truong Sa islands"—Vietnam occupies Spratly Island, which it calls Truong Sa— around 1 AM on June 10 when he and his crew heard voices speaking in a foreign language.

"At first, the captain said, he feared that they might be pirates but later found them both soaking wet and shivering and thought they might have had an accident at sea. The foreign men continued using hand signals to request help and pointed towards Reed Bank," Saigon Times reported.

According to the Department of National Defense, which first issued a statement on the incident, the collision—later called an allision because the Filipino boat was anchored—happened late at night on June 9.

Saigon Times reported that the Vietnamese boat sailed to the Reed Bank—what Manila calls the Recto Bank—and found "20 Filipino fishermen wearing life jackets and clinging to plastic barrels and pieces of wood from the shipwreck."

They were described in the report as "hungry and quivering." The fishermen from Tien Giang province gave the Filipinos "rice, instant noodles and warm materials," Saigon Times said.

The Filipino fishermen reportedly said their boat was hit by another ship, a fact that China has already acknowledged.

RELATED: Embassy: It was Chinese ship, but no hit and run

"At about 5 AM, the Tien Giang fishing vessel returned to the original site to pull up the net. The Filipino fishermen borrowed a radio handset from the Vietnamese boat to contact a Filipino fishing vessel for help," Saigon Times reported, adding a Filipino boat came to pick up the Filipino crewmen at 2 PM.

The BRP Ramon Alcaraz was among the ships sent to assist the Filipino fishermen but it is unclear whether the Alcaraz was the ship mentioned in the Saigon Times report.




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