Pablo aftermath: 1 tuna fishing boat sinks, more unaccounted for

MANILA (MindaNews / 5 Dec) – At least one tuna catcher vessel sank as super typhoon Pablo brought waves as high as 30 feet when it slammed into the high seas off eastern Mindanao Tuesday, according to sources here today.

One fisherman was confirmed dead and three others wounded while eight other crew members of the tuna catcher vessel reportedly owned by DCG Fishing, a Davao-based fishing company, sank during the height of the super typhoon.

The fate of the undetermined number of accompanying light boats, including their crew, is also unaccounted for as of press time.

Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources director Asis Perez, who is heading the Philippine delegation in the ongoing Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission five-day meeting that ends on Thursday, was flooded by words of sympathy from foreign delegations.

Reports from General Santos City also said owners of at least five other tuna catcher vessels cannot locate their fishing fleets.

The sources, however, asked not to identify the specific vessels and their crew so as not to unduly burden the family of the crew members who they are still trying to locate

Most tuna catcher vessels (unay) have support vessels of at least three light boats and the average crew member could run as high as 35 fishermen.

In addition, each fishing fleet is being “seviced” by service boats where tuna catches are loaded for delivery to the port of destinations of their catches.

An owner of one General Santos City-based tuna catcher said they had lost contact with the rest of the fleet vessels except for one ranger boat that is now confirmed washed ashore in Mati, Davao Oriental.

The crew of the light boat was brought to the hospital for treatment.

The owner said they are intensifying efforts to re-establish contact with their workers.

He said they have also sought the help of Philippine authorities.

Pablo is the strongest typhoon to hit most parts of northern and eastern Mindanao with gales of up to 175 kilometers per hour (kph) and gustiness of over 220 kph.

The typhoon ravaged several provinces and left behind more than 200 dead as of late Wednesday afternoon.

Roofs of houses and buildings were blown away and most low lying areas in the Davao provinces and Caraga region in Mindanao were inundated.

Rescuers are still battling through flooded areas and roads covered by debris from landslides and fallen trees and electric poles. (Edwin Espejo / MindaNews contributor)