Philippine fishing boat sinks after alleged collision near Spratlys

Reefs in the Spratly Island chain Image: AFP Reefs in the Spratly Island chain

A Philippine fishing boat sank in the waters off the disputed Spratly Islands after it was reportedly struck by another vessel on the night of Sunday, June 9.

The fishing boat Gimver 1 with a crew of 22 was anchored near Reed Bank within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the Spratlys when it was struck by an unidentified vessel, Philippine defence secretary Delfin Lorenzana confirmed.

Mr Lorenzana adds that the Philippine vessel sank immediately after the collision.

All 22 Filipino fishermen were left floating in the water until they were rescued later that evening by the crew of a Vietnamese fishing vessel which happened to be in the area when the incident occurred. The individuals were later handed over to the Philippine Navy and brought to shore to receive medical treatment.

Mr Lorenzana said the vessel that struck Gimver 1 left the scene of the incident without even stopping to assist the Filipino fishermen.

Officials in Manila have condemned the "cowardly action" of the other vessel's crew and have called for a formal investigation into the incident.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is still working to verify the unidentified vessel's country of registry in the wake of conflicting reports.

Some reports said the vessel was Chinese-flagged while others stated it was Vietnamese-flagged, PCG spokesman Captain Armand Balilo told local reporters on Wednesday.

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