Sanya - China's maritime rescue vessels have saved 986 fishermen stranded by Typhoon Hagibis in waters off the Nansha and Xisha islands, including seven from Vietnam, in an eight-day mission that concluded on Friday.
Vietnamese fishermen express thanks to Chinese rescuers after they arrived at a dock in Sanya, Hainan Province, on Friday. [Agencies]
The seven Vietnamese fishermen arrived in Sanya, Hainan Province, on Friday morning, aboard Nanhaijiu 112. Arrangements have been made for them to travel home directly from Sanya.
"We are very grateful to the Chinese government for saving us," said Vietnamese fisherman Huynh Van Mot, 33.
The Vietnamese boat capsized last Tuesday in high winds. Last Friday, a passing Chinese fishing boat rescued them and gave them food and water.
In the following days, they lived with the Chinese fishermen, sharing the already scarce food and water, until Nanhaijiu 112, one of the three rescue vessels sent by Guangzhou-based Nanhai Rescue Bureau, reached them on Monday.
Lin Zhong, a senior crewmember of Nanhaijiu 112, said that when they reached the fishermen their food supplies were already running very low.
During the typhoon, winds reached over force 10 and the waves were as high as 9 meters.
It took the vessel more than four days to finally reach the fishermen, who docked their boats in between the reef to avoid the typhoon's damage.
By Thursday evening, three rescue vessels and a helicopter had aided 52 fishing boats from Hainan and Guangdong provinces in the waters near the Nansha and Xisha islands in the South China Sea.