Typhoon Bopha: Entire Tuna Fishing Fleet was Lost in 175mph Storm

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By Umberto Bacchi | December 13, 2012 1:34 AM EST

A view of the coastal town of Banganga that was devastated at the height of last Tuesday's Typhoon Bopha in Davao Oriental in southern Philippines (Reuters)

Rescue workers in the Philippines have saved three tuna fishermen from a fleet which was decimated by Typhoon Bopha, but more than 260 of their colleagues are believed lost

The rescued trio were part of a fleet comprising 46 vessels and over 300 people, which was reported missing in the 175mph winds and rough seas caused by Bopha last week.

The three men were spotted by low-flying search planes drifting in a small boat, having used mirrors to attract the attention of the pilots. They were subsequently picked up by rescue ships.

Local reports claim the men were weak and dehydrated when they were picked up, but no further details as to their condition are available.

A total of 35 of the tuna fishermen have now been rescued, while six have been found dead and 261 have still to be accounted for. Rescuers are combing the Celebes Sea and the adjoining section of the Pacific Ocean in search of further survivors.

The fleet had sailed from the southerly General Santos City back in October, and the Philippine Coast Guard said the ships were owned by six different companies.

The Philippine fishing association Pamalakaya has blamed the six companies involved for the tragedy, as they received plenty of warning that Bopha was coming.

"These tuna firms were advised to temporarily shelve their operations because of the incoming storm. But they did not heed to the advisory, and instead they pursued their perpetual thirst for precious tuna and gambled the lives of fish workers," Pamalakaya national chairman Fernando Hicap told local news site Philstar.

Typhoon Bopha killed about 700 people in total, and more than 900 are missing.

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