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Search ongoing for missing fishermen

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by Michele Catahay

Guam - A search is underway for two fishermen who were swept out into the sea late Saturday night. While the incident took place just before 10:30pm, rescue units combed First Beach in Ipan, Talofofo throughout the night and continued the search early this morning.

Felix Torres went fishing with three others. The group was setting up their fishing nets when they were swept out into the sea in the southern village. "One person holds and we have three other people on the shore or chase and it came it a point where my cousin thought it was getting too rough. He turned and asked me if I wanted to come in but it looked like we were all okay, so we said, 'Let's just give it a shot'. And one of our guys panicked and as soon as he panicked, everything just got out of control," he said.

Felix along with his brother Steven made it back to shore, but the two remaining fishermen were swept out into the ocean. Felix says the two individuals who remain missing are his cousin Joe Castro and Evan Paulino, who happens to be a family friend. "I saw my cousin Joe in the water and I left," Felix recalled. "He was asking me to help him. I didn't know what was wrong except that he looked stuck. But I don't know if he was stuck or he cramped. I just didn't know, so I grabbed his left leg and his left leg was fine, so I grabbed his hand.

"When I grabbed his hand, the wave came in and covered him and pulled me out."

Guam Fire Department spokesperson Joey San Nicolas says search efforts were initiated by GFD. Joining the search include the U.S. Coast Guard, the Navy's HSC-25 helicopters, and the Guam Police Department. "Of course, we're always hoping to recover and hopefully rescue or find some types of signs of life anywhere we can. Basically we're doing several different things: establishing drift patterns, doing search patterns coordinated from air, land as well as sea. and of course we're always going to hope to find them," San Nicolas explained.

Talofofo mayor Vicente Taitague was on site to help assist the families while the search was ongoing. He says all of the fishermen happen to be his nephews who are all from Talofofo. He says while first beach is a safe place for families, he says residents should always be cautious.

"I would like to ask my people - see, there's nothing wrong with the water. You have to understand the condition of the water otherwise you'll be in trouble. So, take note of the advisories from the Government of Guam. Don't dare to challenge nature. Nature could always take you," implored the mayor.

In the meantime, Felix says he and his family are hoping for the best. "I'm hoping that if he's not alive, that at least we find his body. If he is alive, I just hope he makes it back and so does Evan," he said.

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