13 rescued, 3 dead after vessel sinks near Guam

By Li Xiaokun (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-07-14 09:15

Three more Chinese sailors were saved and three confirmed dead on Friday after a two-day search for missing crew members of a Panama-registered vessel which sank in the western Pacific on Wednesday Beijing time.

Six other crew members remained missing as of Friday evening, said the Ministry of Communications.

Hopes remain high that the missing crew members could still be alive as it is understood they are wearing heat-preserving lifejackets and that local sea temperatures are around 20C.

The 120-meter break-bulk freighter Hai Tong 7 encountered 112 kph winds and 7-meter waves from Typhoon Man-yi en route from Papua New Guinea to China and sank about 600 kilometers from Guam on Wednesday with all 22 Chinese sailors aboard falling into the sea.

The survivors were recovered by the US Navy and private ships operating in the area which were coordinated by the US Coast Guard, Susan Stevenson, press attach of the US Embassy in Beijing, said on Friday.

The US Coast Guard responded to the ship's emergency position indicating radio beacon soon after the incident, said Stevenson.

The signal ceased broadcasting about 20 minutes later after the Coast Guard appealed for passing vessels to assist.

"As soon as the weather became operable, a US navy plane spotted seven survivors in the water in lifejackets," added Stevenson.

Two US aircraft, a patrol boat and nine passing vessels have been engaged in the search efforts, said the Ministry of Communications.

"The immediate response by so many mariners is impressive," Commander Frank Genco, chief of the Coast Guard's search and rescue branch in Honolulu, was quoted by Reuters as saying. "Mariners truly understand the importance of helping their fellow sailors."

Eight of the survivors were taken to Guam, a US territory, by the Japanese merchant vessel Ikan Belis on Friday, and two are on board the US vessel Horizon Falcon heading for China. The other two are staying with vessels involved in the search for the remaining missing crew members.

Premier Wen Jiabao and Vice-Premier Zeng Peiyan have expressed great concern and urged relevant departments to try their best to search for the missing sailors. And, on Thursday, Minister of Communications Li Shenglin inspected the China Maritime Search and Rescue Center to learn about the latest situation.

Top China News  
Today's Top News  
Most Commented/Read Stories in 48 Hours