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How a Vietnamese Fishing Boat Saved 22 Filipino Victims From a Shipwreck

The group of Vietnamese fishermen includes ten people working on a fishing boat belonging to Tien Giang resident Ngo Van Theng.

According to Theng, he was informed by the boat captain, 35-year-old Nguyen Thanh Tam, about the incident, Thanh Nien reports. On June 9, at 1am, calls for help from outside the boat awakened the fishermen. Two foreigners approached Theng's vessel on two dinghy boats seeking assistance.

After making sure they were not pirates, the Vietnamese crew let them aboard. Not knowing each other's languages, the two groups of fishermen only communicated via gestures and signs. The two Filipino fishermen kept pointing towards the direction of Reed Bank, indicating that there were more victims, so the Vietnamese captain decided to help. Despite the close distance, it took an hour for them to arrive at the site since it was so dark.

There were 20 other shipwreck victims wearing life vests at the scene trying to hold on to boat debris and plastic barrels. The Vietnamese fishermen managed to get them out of the water and into their boat, giving them food and dry clothes. The next morning, the boat went back to the location where they saw the two dinghies and lent the Filipino fishermen a radio transceiver to call for help. Seven hours later, a Filippino boat came to pick up the 22 fishermen, and they were reunited with their families on Friday, June 14.

"After working as a fisherman for many years, this is the first time that my family's ship has rescued another vessel, especially a foreign ship. I believe that anyone who heads out to sea would have done the same thing, not just us," Theng told the news source.

According to the Philippines Ministry of Defense, there was a collision between the Filipino fishing boat and a Chinese vessel that night. The incident has stirred diplomatic tensions between the two countries, as the Philippine government believes the Chinese boat purposely rammed their ship to sink it, left the victims in the sea and sailed away.

[Photo by Jeff Canoy via ABS-CBN]

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