At least 12 Filipinos missing in boat collision: Media

A Filipino fishing boat collided with a foreign cargo vessel on June 28, according to media reports. PHOTO: AFP

MANILA (AFP) - At least 12 Filipinos were missing early on Monday (June 29) after a collision between their fishing boat and a foreign cargo vessel, media reports in the Philippines said.

The incident occurred on Sunday off the north-west coast of the Philippine province of Occidental Mindoro, the and Rappler news websites reported.

Both cited the Philippine Coast Guard, but the Inquirer reported 12 disappeared while Rappler said the missing included 12 crew plus two other employees of their company.

The other vessel involved was "a Chinese cargo vessel", according to Rappler, while said it was flagged in Hong Kong, the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

"When our (team) arrived in the area, they still saw the fishing boat capsized but did not find anyone anymore," the Inquirer quoted Commodore Leovegildo Panopio, commander of the Coast Guard's Southern Tagalog district, as saying.

A strong current interrupted the search on Sunday evening but it would resume early on Monday, he said.

The incident happened about 24km from Paluan town, the Inquirer said.

On June 9, a Chinese fishing trawler hit and sank a Filipino boat more than 300km farther to the south-west near Reed Bank, an area of the South China Sea within Manila's territory but which is also claimed by Beijing.

Vietnamese fishermen rescued 22 Filipinos after that collision, which left President Rodrigo Duterte facing accusations of defending Beijing.

Mr Duterte has tried to downplay the case, calling it an "accident" and accepting Beijing's offer to conduct a joint investigation.

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