Philippines claims Chinese Coast Guard deployed ‘Laser’ to disrupt supply missions

MANILA (Reuters) – The Philippines on Monday accused the Chinese Coast Guard of trying to blockade one of its vessels supporting a resupply mission for troops stationed on an atoll in the disputed South China Sea by pointing a ” military laser” on the crew led boat.

In a statement, the Philippine Coast Guard said the February 6 incident occurred in the second Thomas Shoal when a Chinese Coast Guard vessel pointed the laser at its vessel, temporarily blinding the crew on deck and performing “dangerous manoeuvres”.

“The deliberate blocking of Philippine government vessels delivering food and supplies to our military personnel…is a flagrant disregard and gross violation of the sovereignty rights of the Philippines in this part of the Western Philippine Sea,” the statement said.

The Chinese Embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to a request for comment. China said it was ready to “warmly” settle maritime affairs with the Philippines during President Ferdinand Marcos’ visit to Beijing in January.

Known locally as Ayungin, the Second Thomas Shoal, 195 km (105 nautical miles) off the Philippine province of Palawan, is the temporary home of a small military contingent aboard a rusting vessel.

The 100-meter (330-foot) World War II vessel was intentionally beached on the shoal in 1999 to bolster Manila’s sovereignty claims in the Spratly Archipelago.

China’s reported blocking of a supply mission comes as Marcos said he was open to reaching a Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with Japan to increase security at sea.

In August, Chinese Coast Guard vessels with Chinese naval militias blocked Philippine Coast Guard vessels securing naval supply boats, according to the Coast Guard statement.

Marcos was in Japan last week for a five-day visit to forge closer security ties with Tokyo, which in December announced its biggest military build-up since World War II, fueled by concerns over aggressive Chinese actions. In the region.

The president’s first visit to Japan since taking office came after he recently granted the United States access to more military bases in the Philippines as part of a VFA, a move which, according to the China, has undermined regional stability and eased tensions. The VFA provides rules for the rotation of thousands of American soldiers inside and outside the Philippines for exercises.

(Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Ed Davies)


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Coast Guard rescues man from capsizing yacht after allegedly leaving dead fish at ‘Goonies’ home

On Friday, unwitting rescuers picked up a man accused of placing a dead fish at an Oregon home featured on ‘The Goonies’ in choppy waters shortly after the yacht he was on capsized, reports said. authorities.

The man, later identified as Jericho Labonte, 35, of Victoria, B.C., was arrested on Friday after a number of people recognized him, police in Astoria, B.C. Oregon, in a statement.

Authorities began pursuing Labonte after receiving a report Wednesday that he posted a video on Facebook showing him placing the dead fish on the porch of the residence, police said. The house is nicknamed “The Goonies”, the 1985 Steven Spielberg teen adventure film in which the house appears.

But it wasn’t until the US Coast Guard shared a video showing a dramatic rescue on Friday that authorities learned the boat in the video had been stolen and the man rescued was believed to be Labonte, police said. .

Astoria police say Labonte is wanted for theft, endangering another person, unauthorized use of a vehicle and criminal mischief. Astoria Police Chief Stacy Kelly said some of the allegations stemmed from pre-existing cases in British Columbia, according to The Associated Press.

Video of the rescue, taken aboard a US Coast Guard helicopter, showed a person later identified as Labonte alone on a 35ft vessel that had made a distress call and was taking on water, it said. the coast guard. A lifeguard rushes towards them through the rough seas until a wave approaches, he falls overboard and the boat capsizes.

A U.S. Coast Guard vessel, left, moves Friday to aid a stricken ship in the choppy waters of the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest. US Coast Guard via Twitter

The lifeguard picked up the head of the wave, climbed under it and surfaced to grab the suspect, according to video and Coast Guard statements.

A helicopter crew brought the two to safety, the agency said.

Later that day, police were informed by the Astoria Port Security Chief that the salvage vessel had been stolen from the harbour. Several local residents also called to say they recognized the rescued man as Labonte, police said.

By the time Labonte was identified as a suspect, he had been released from Columbia Memorial Hospital after being rescued, police said.

Officers later arrested him about 17 miles south of Astoria in Seaside, Ore., at a warming center for people in need of shelter, Astoria police said Friday evening.

An attempt to reach Labonte failed.

The rescue took place about 6 miles west of the mouth of the Columbia River off the Oregon coast, according to the Coast Guard. Seas off the coast were measured as high as 20 feet on Friday, federal meteorologists said.

The brave rescuer was identified Friday night as Aviation Survival Technician 3rd Class John “Branch” Walton. It was his first life saved as a lifeguard, and he graduated from the Coast Guard’s Advanced Helicopter Rescue School later that day, the agency said.

Astoria, a city on the Columbia River, is about 100 miles northwest of Portland, Oregon.

A Kansas City contractor bought the ‘Goonies’ Victorian home in the city for $1.65 million in December and kept his identity a secret until the deal closed in January, according to reports from NBC affiliates. KING of Seattle and KGW of Portland. The latter described buyer Behman Zakeri as a “Goonies” “superfan” who intends to keep the property as a place for other fans of the film to visit and take selfies.

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