Three more Chinese sailors rescued
Three of five Chinese sailors missing after a ship-sank on Tuesday afternoon off the coast of India were rescued Wednesday after floating on the sea for more than 20 hours.
On Tuesday, the five crew members of the Malaysian ship Genius Star, were feared drowned when only 12 of the 17 Chinese crew members were rescued.
The ship, bound for Calcutta, sank in the high seas off the West Bengal coast about 190 kilometres southeast of the town of Haldia.
The three sailors were in good physical conditions when rescued at about 2:10 pm, the Chinese embassy in India quoted coast guard commandant R.K. Wadhwa as saying.
The coast guard was still hoping to find the other two missing sailors, Wadhwa said.
Genius Star, which was about 96 metres in length, set sail from Malaysia on April 6 with 6,000 tones of logs, said local media in India.
Around 8:30 am on Tuesday, the ship's captain noticed a leak in the hull through which water was rushing in. The crew tried in vain to plug the leak.
Around 9 am, the captain radioed an SOS to the coast guard at Haldia. ? "It was clear to us that the vessel was in big trouble. We swung into action, but the ship was some distance from here and there was little we could do immediately, apart from asking other vessels on the route to help," said Wadhwa.
But no other ship was nearby. Coast guard vessel Varha left Haldia soon after, as did Razia Sultana from Paradip, about 300 kilometres southeast of Haldia. An aircraft was also pressed into action.
Around 11 o'clock, the pilot reported that part of Genius Star was already underwater.
"It seems that the vessel is sinking fast, the pilot said over the radio.
With little time left, the coast guard located South Korean merchant vessel MV Tonghai, about 50 kilometres from the sinking ship. "We requested the Korean vessel to rush to the aid of the Malaysian ship and try and rescue its crew members," said Wadhwa.
At 12:30 pm, the pilot of the coast guard plane circling the region radioed a message saying that the ship could no longer be seen.
"We knew then that the worst had happened and the ship had sunk," Wadhwa said.
About two hours later, the South Korean vessel sent a message to the coast guard saying that five Genius Star crew members had been pulled out. There was no trace of the rest.
More vessels took part in the search-and-rescue operation, which continued into the evening. Seven sailors were pulled out of the high sea using powerful searchlights.
Since 2000, half a dozen ships have sunk off the Haldia port.