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Two missing in Taiwanese fishing boat fire

2013/05/21 17:33:04

Taipei, May 21 (CNA) Eleven crew members were rescued Tuesday after a Taiwanese fishing boat caught fire in waters near Mauritius on May 19, but the search continues for two missing fishermen, a Taiwanese fishery official said Tuesday.

Huang Pao-jung, the Taiwanese skipper of the Ruei Yi Hsiang No. 11, and a crew member had not been found as of noon Tuesday, two days after the boat caught fire and apparently sunk in the Indian Ocean, said Tsai Jih-yao, deputy director-general of the National Fisheries Agency.

The fire occurred in an area far away from where pirates usually roam and there is no evidence that it was caused by external factors, Tsai said.

The 11 crewmen were picked up by three fishing boats belonging to the same company that owned the ill-fated vessel, which was carrying 12 Philippine fishermen and the Taiwanese skipper, Tsai said.

The government of Mauritius has sent a helicopter to help search for the missing men in the hope of maximizing the 72-hour "golden" timeframe for search and rescue operations, said Lin Han-chou, the head of a Donggang fisherman's association.

The Fisheries Agency has dispatched a specialist to Mauritius to help deal with the matter, he added.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation but it may have been due to an overheated engine, according to the fishery radio station in Donggang Township, Pingtung County, where the boat is registered.

The 80-ton tuna fishing boat left Taiwan in April 2010 for the Indian Ocean and was operating from a fishing base in Mauritius, the radio station said. (Yang Su-min, Kuo Chu-chen and Y.L. Kao)

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