How 10 Vietnamese fishermen rescued 22 Filipino fishermen

File Photo

A REPORT by online Vietnamese newspaper VnExpress said a Vietnamese fishing crew found the Filipino fishermen wearing life jackets and clinging to plastic barrels and pieces of wood from their damaged boat near Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea.

The Filipinos were "tired, hungry and cold."

The rescue was carried out only through gestures. Neither the Vietnamese nor the Filipinos could understand each other's language.

According to the VnExpress report published online on June 18, 2019, the fishing boat TGTG-90983-TS from the Mekong Delta's Tien Giang Province was anchored near Recto Bank, known internationally as Reed Bank, when the crew was roused by voices of foreigners at around 1 a.m. of June 10, 2019.

Nguyen Thanh Tam, captain of the Vietnamese boat, told VnExpress that he saw two men in a boat speaking in a foreign language. The men waved their hands, asked for help and pointed towards Reed Bank.

The Vietnamese captain said he was hesitant to help at first because he thought the foreigners were pirates. But he saw that they were soaking wet and shivering.

Tam decided they must have been in an accident, had their boat towed to his boat, and headed out towards Reed Bank.

It took the Vietnamese boat about an hour to reach the area.

"The Vietnamese crew found a group of 20 Filipino fishermen wearing life jackets clinging on to plastic barrels and pieces of wood from a sunken boat. They were tired, hungry and cold," VnExpress reported.

The 10 Vietnamese fishermen took the 22 Filipino fishermen aboard their boat and fed them with rice and noodles.

Read the full report of VnExpress here.

The Vietnamese crew found a group of 20 Filipino fishermen wearing life jackets clinging on to plastic barrels and pieces of wood from a sunken boat. They were tired, hungry and cold.

Posted by VnExpress International on Tuesday, June 18, 2019

"The Filipino fishing crew intimated through gestures that their boat was rammed and sunk. After the collision, two of them sailed a small boat for more than four hours towards the light emanating from the Vietnamese boat to seek assistance," the report said.

"At 5 a.m. the next day, the Tien Giang-based boat moved back to its original place to continue their fishing voyage. By then, the Filipino crew had borrowed a radio to inform a sister boat in the area about their plight. Around 2 p.m. the same day, another Filipino boat came to pick up the 22 fishermen," the report added.

This account by the Vietnamese boat captain corroborated the account of the 22 Filipino fishermen who claimed that they were abandoned by the Chinese after their fishing boat F/B Gemver was struck and damaged by a Chinese vessel.

China, in their June 14 statement, claimed that the crew of the Chinese purse seine vessel that rammed F/B Gemver did not leave the area until the Filipinos were rescued.

The Philippine Navy and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier reported that the Filipino boat was anchored near Recto Bank when it was struck by the Chinese vessel. The Chinese fled the area and left the Filipinos, a violation of the international conventions on providing assistance to people in distress at sea.

Vietnam is also claiming Reed Bank as part of its Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago. The Philippines claims ownership of Recto (Reed) Bank because it is within its exclusive economic zone. China is claiming the area based on its nine-dash line in the South China Sea.

To the Philippines, the disputed area is called the West Philippine Sea. For the Vietnamese, the area is called the East Sea. (MVI/SunStar Philippines)


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