31 town fisherfolks still missing in PhilippinesBy Edwin Espejo Jun 14, 2012 4:07PM UTC
MAASIM, Sarangani (June 14) – Despite rescuing some 300 fishermen who were drifted by a strong storm surge Tuesday evening, 31 from this town are still unaccounted for as of Thursday morning according to a report reaching Maasim Mayor Arturo Lawa.
Two were already confirmed dead by disaster officials from the province.
Titing Restauro, a fisherman from Kabatiol village in Maasim said he clung on their capsized outrigger boat under pitch black darkness and thought he and four other companions will not make it alive to the morning. They were found by fellow fishermen at break of day still hanging on to their dear lives.
Hundreds of fishermen, most of them from Maasim found themselves in the middle of Sarangani Bay Tuesday evening battling a sudden surge of swollen seas caused by a low pressure area that hit the country. Many had their boats capsized by the huge waves. Others were drifted as far as Balut Island and Glan east of Sarangani Bay.
A storm surge is “a high flood of water caused by wind and low pressure, most commonly associated with hurricanes.”
Lawa said six fishermen from Poblacion center are still missing, 3 from Malbang, also 3 from Kamanga, 4 from Kablacan, 3 from Kabatiol, 11 from Colon and one from Tinoto bringing the total to 31.
There were no immediate reports of missing fishermen from other towns in Sarangani.
The Philippine Coast Guard said rescue operations are still ongoing as reports of sightings of wrecked fishing boats continue to pour in.
Philippine authorities reported as many as 88 still missing as of Wednesday afternoon.
Capt. George Ursabia, commander of the Eastern Mindanao District of the Coast Guard, however said most of those rescued were already sent home.
Most of the rescued fishermen were either washed ashore some 20 kilometers away from Maasim town near a narrow and treacherous channel that separates Glan, Sarangani and the town Balut Island in Davao del Sur.
The channel is known for its strong current.
Glan Mayor James Victor Yap said the town was placed under the state of calamity after several villages were also hit by flashfloods caused by heavy rains Tuesday evening. Many of the fishermen from across the bay were also washed ashore in different villages in Glan.
“A total of 568 families in three barangays of Glan (Pangyan, Big Margus and Cross) were affected by flashfloods that occurred in those barangays at around 6am,” said provincial disaster and risk reduction management head Ben Solarte.