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Taiwan searches for remaining capsized ship crew (update)

2019/01/02 17:34:18

Photo courtesy of the National Rescue Command Center

Taipei, Jan. 2 (CNA) Taiwan is participating in a search and rescue mission to find crew members of a Palau-registered general cargo ship still missing after the vessel capsized in waters east of China's Wenzhou on Wednesday morning, the National Rescue Command Center (NRCC) said.

The center received a report at 7:05 a.m. that a Palau-registered boat with 15 crew members (one Taiwanese and 14 Myanmarese) on board capsized in waters 190 nautical miles (352 kilometers) northeast of Songshan District in Taipei, the NRCC said in a statement.

Taiwan's Maritime and Port Bureau was later notified that the boat went down in waters 150 nautical miles (278 km) north-northeast of Taiwan-held Pengjia Islet and about 167 km east of Wenzhou in the East China Sea.

As of 3:30 p.m., two Myanmarese crew members were rescued by a South Korean fishing boat, while two others were rescued and one body found by a Chinese fishing boat but the other 10 are still missing.

The NRCC has coordinated with rescue units to dispatch rescue helicopters and coastal patrol vessels to the scene to help with the search, the center said.

It also informed Chinese and Japanese rescue centers to help with the effort and asked radio stations along Taiwan's northern coast to inform ships passing through the area to assist in rescue operations, the NRCC said.

A military rescue helicopter reached the area at 9 a.m. but its search did not yield any immediate results, the NRCC said, adding that the mission is still underway.

According to information obtained from the Taichung fishery radio station, the overturned vessel is a Palau-registered general cargo ship that departed from Taichung Port on Dec. 30 and was headed to Busan, South Korea, the NRCC said.

Meanwhile, the Maritime and Port Bureau said in a statement that it has assembled a maritime incident response team to keep abreast of the latest developments.

The ship capsized in an area where China is responsible for maritime rescues, but based on humanitarian grounds, the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are both participating in the rescue operation, the bureau said.

The 2,216-ton ship departed Kaohsiung Port on Dec. 26 after unloading goods, stopped in Taichung Port on Dec. 28 to refuel, and left for Busan on Dec. 30, according to the bureau.

As of 2:30 p.m., the Ministry of National Defense has deployed three helicopters, the Air Combat Command has dispatched a S-70C helicopter and a fixed-wing airplane, and the Coast Guard Administration has sent a coast guard ship--the Taoyuan CG-132--to join the rescue mission, according to the NRCC.

In addition, China has deployed two helicopters and four rescue ships to the site, it said.

(By Huang Li-yun, Matt Yu and Evelyn Kao)
Enditem/ls/AW