HANGZHOU -- Rescue teams looking for 19 people missing after a ship collision on Saturday, were called back on Tuesday afternoon after a fruitless three-day search in the East China Sea.
"We have decided to halt the rescue operation as experts said the chance for the missing to survive in the such cold weather for such a long time is almost impossible," said an official with Zhejiang Provincial Maritime Affairs Bureau who declined to give his name.
However, the local government was organizing local fishermen with their own boats to continue the search, the official said.
A Liberian-registered ship collided with a local fishing boat at about 11:40 p.m. on Saturday in the sea off the China's eastern Zhejiang Province on its way from Taiwan to the Republic of Korea.
The fishing boat, with 20 people on board, capsized and only one was rescued.
The provincial search and rescue center sent more than 10 search boats and a helicopter to look for the missing. In addition, more than 20 fishing boats also participated.
However, after more than 60 hours of search, they found nothing but life preserver rings.
The official said the victims included 12 from Ningbo City in Zhejiang and three others from the southwestern province of Guizhou and central China's Henan Province.
The families of the missing arrived at Zhoushan City to deal with the aftermath with the government.
The local government was investigating the cause of the collision.