MANILA (December 5) – 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 8 other crew members of a 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 was flooded by words of sympathy from foreign delegations attending the 5-day meeting which ends on Thursday.
The number of missing tuna fishermen could rise further as owners of several General Santos City-based fishing vessels told fisheries officials here that they have lost contacts with their fishermen.
Three fishing fleet operators from General Santos City attending the WCPFC meeting said crew members of at their 5 tuna catcher vessels cannot be located a day after Pablo made a landfall.
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 per set.
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.
One owner of a General Santos City-based tuna catcher said except for one ranger boat that is now confirmed washed ashore in Mati, Davao Oriental, they could still not establish contacts with the rest of his fishing fleet.
The 3 crew members of the light boat were brought to the hospital for treatment.
The owner, who requested anonymity so as not to unduly burden the family of the rest of the crew members who they are still trying to locate, said they have already 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.