LINGAYEN, Philippines - Officials on Monday reported the disappearance of another fishing boat with eight crew members somewhere in the West Philippine Sea when Tropical Storm "Kabayan" sliced through northern Luzon, raising to 43 the number of fishermen missing.
Kabayan (international name: Mujigae) left the country on Saturday, claiming the lives of three people, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said in Manila.
The FB Azekuel Ryan was reported missing to the Pangasinan Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) only on Sunday, according to its head, Rhodyn Luchinvar Oro. The boat was last seen on Oct. 2.
As of Sunday, 35 fishermen remained missing after two who left Agno town were rescued in the afternoon. Dennis dela Peña, 52, and Gilbert Gayrama, 17, both from Barangay Baruan in Agno, were found on their boat drifting about 30 nautical miles (55 kilometers) west of Bolinao town.
But Lt. Senior Grade Alexander Corpuz, commander of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) station in Sual town, said that as of 1 p.m. Monday, only 36 fishermen were missing, including six from Barangay Balogo in neighbouring Masinloc town in Zambales province.
Corpuz said PCG personnel also rescued in Pangasinan two fishermen from Barangay San Manuel Norte in Agoo, La Union province, on Sunday.
Scouring the sea
"We have already rescued 75 fishermen, and we hope to find more," said Corpuz, who was in Bolinao town to supervise the search and rescue operations.
At least six fishing boats and PCG vessels have been scouring the West Philippine Sea since Saturday to look for the fishermen, he said. Oro said he had requested the Office of Civil Defence (OCD) in the Ilocos region to help in the search and rescue operations.
Avenix Arenas, PDRRMO spokesperson, said the fishermen left their villages when Kabayan was still a low pressure area (LPA) in the waters off Eastern Visayas. "Who would have known that the LPA will become a typhoon? And it was fast," he said.
On Friday morning, Kabayan crossed Pangasinan, headed to the Lingayen Gulf and then moved west to the island town of Anda before going out to the West Philippine Sea. "Most of the missing fishermen were already on their way back to shore when their boats were battered by strong waves and wind," Arenas said.
Among the fatalities was a fisherman, identified as Quintero Artemio, of Infanta, Pangasinan, who was earlier reported missing when he went fishing on Thursday but was found dead in Agno on Saturday night.
Also killed were Samuel Corcoro in Aurora province and Raquel Camilo in Nueva Ecija province.
The NDRRMC said 36 fishermen who went missing at sea had been rescued. They are mostly from Infanta, Bolinao, Agoo and Baler. It said 27 others from the Ilocos and Central Luzon were still missing as of Monday.
A total of 4,565 families or 22,368 people were affected by Kabayan in La Union, Aurora, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Zambales. Seven evacuation centres are housing 1,391 families or 6,480 people in these provinces.
A total of 48 barangays are still flooded in Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, Bulacan and Pampanga, while power outages are being experienced in Pangasinan, Aurora and Benguet.
Damage to agriculture in Pangasinan and Aurora was placed at over P1 million.
The storm also destroyed 131 houses in Aurora and Nueva Ecija and rendered 12 roads and two bridges impassable due to landslides and floods in Central Luzon and the Cordillera region.
With a report from Julie M. Aurelio in Manila