South China Sea: Philippines says three fishermen killed after ‘foreign’ ship rams their boat near Scarborough Shoal

Philippine Coast Guard

Survivors reach shore in Pangasinan province on October 3 after what the Philippine Coast Guard said was a collision between a fishing boat and an “unidentified commercial vessel.”



CNN

Three Filipino fishermen were killed after an “unidentified commercial vessel” rammed their fishing boat near Scarborough Shoal, the Philippine Coast Guard said Wednesday, exacerbating tensions in a disputed area. South China Sea This is already a flashpoint.

The Philippine Coast Guard said it was working to confirm the type of ship involved in the accident, but added that the boat that caused the collision was “foreign.”

The marine collision occurred at about 4:20 a.m. Monday, a crew member from the Philippine ship FFB Dearyn told authorities, according to a Coast Guard statement.

The statement added that 11 crew members survived the accident and used their service boats to reach land on Tuesday morning, transporting the dead – including the boat’s captain – to Pangasinan province in northern Luzon, the country’s largest island.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the Coast Guard is “standing back and examining all surveillance vessels in the area as part of its ongoing investigation,” according to a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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

The South China Sea is a 1.3 million square mile waterway vital to international trade, with an estimated third of global shipping worth trillions of dollars passing through it each year. This means that huge container ships and oil tankers routinely sail through the region.

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The sea is also home to vast fertile fishing grounds on which the lives and livelihoods of many people depend, often using much smaller vessels.

But it is also a major marine hotspot.

between brackets China Many Southeast Asian countries have multiple governments claiming parts of the sea, with Beijing asserting ownership over almost all of the waterway, in defiance of an international court ruling.

Over the past two decades, China has occupied a number of obscure reefs and atolls far from its coastline across the South China Sea, where it has built military facilities, including runways and ports.

Philippine Coast Guard

Survivors arrive at Barangay Kato in Infanta, Pangasinan Province, Philippines on October 3.

Philippine Coast Guard

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

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

The area has seen increasingly frequent confrontations between Filipino ships and small wooden fishing boats against larger Chinese coast guard vessels and what Manila says are mysterious Chinese maritime militia fishing vessels.

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

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This is a developing story. More to follow.

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