Navy and Coast Guard ships have been deployed in the northern coastal province of Pangasinan to rescue 26 Filipino fishermen who were earlier reported missing due to a tropical depression after venturing into fishing in the South China Sea, officials said Friday.
"It's ongoing," National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) executive officer Benito Ramos said of the rescue mission, "Our ships from the Navy and Coast are on the way."
Ramos said the last radio contact with the fishermen's fishing boat was 3 p.m Thursday, about three and a half hours before its expected arrival in Pangasinan. Ramos surmised the boat's radio bogged down or the ship sank.
"There's a progress on the (incident)...Aircraft pilots spotted the 26 floating," said Ramos, adding a helicopter spotted the fishermen before 11 a.m. Friday west of Anda town, Pangasinan.
"My understanding is that since they (pilots) were not able to see the boat, it probably sank. They saw them (fishermen) in orange life vests. We just don't know how many of the 26 are alive," he said.