Aug. 28 (UPI) -- The Philippines said a Chinese group representing a boat that collided with a Filipino vessel in June has apologized for the incident.
Manila's Department of Foreign Affairs said Wednesday the group apologized with a letter that came ahead of an upcoming summit between Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Rappler reported.
The letter, written in English and published on the department's official Twitter account, described the collision as "accidental."
"It was fortunate that there were no casualties," the letter read.
The incident took place on June 9, in an area near Recto or Reed Bank in the West Philippine Sea, part of the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.
After the Chinese vessel crashed then sunk the Filipino boat, 22 fishermen were reportedly stranded at sea until a Vietnamese crew came to their rescue.
Beijing did not apologize immediately after, despite outrage in Manila, saying instead the collision and sinking was a "commonplace maritime incident."
The letter published Wednesday said the apology comes from the owner of the Chinese ship, a member of the unnamed association.
"I feel deep regret that this accident had to happen and I would like to express my deep sympathy to the Filipino fishermen. The ship owner of the Chinese fishing boat involved, through our association, would like to express his sincere apology to the Filipino fishermen," the letter read.
"We believe that, although this accident was an unintentional mistake of the Chinese fishermen, the Chinese fishing boat should however take the major responsibility in the accident."
Philippine news service GMA reported Wednesday the foreign affairs department did not identify the name of the group, or the person who signed the letter published to the official Twitter account.
China and the Philippines have been cooperating on infrastructure investments, as Duterte seeks to build the Philippine economy amid a tough and controversial war on drugs.