The Philippines yesterday backed away from allegations a Hong Kong vessel may have rammed a Filipino fishing boat in the South China Sea, leaving one man dead and four missing.
The authorities have not identified the mystery vessel behind the incident west of Luzon, said Philippine Navy chief Vice Admiral Alexander Pama.
The Philippine Coast Guard on Monday initially named Hong Kong- flagged MV Peach Mountain a suspect.
However, the authorities have since reviewed the track of the bulk carrier and concluded the vessel was nowhere near the supposed collision site. "If we are just going to compute on the basis of the speed of the ship at 9am, she cannot be in that particular [area] which is 130 nautical miles (222 kilometers) away," Pama said.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the description of the incident as an accidental collision is incorrect.
Four of the eight crew members were rescued three days after the incident a week ago, but one later died. Four other crew members remain missing.
Gazmin said survivors had noticed the markings "Hong Kong" as well as Chinese characters on the stern of the vessel, which was how the MV Peach Mountain had come under suspicion.
About 90 cargo vessels had passed the busy sea lane in the general area of the accident over a 24-hour period, and authorities will narrow the ships most probably involved down to about 20.