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Hunt on for 19 sailors in two boat accidents
By Qin Jize (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-02-21 06:08

A search for 19 Chinese sailors missing in two different ship accidents over the weekend in South China's Beibu Gulf, is continuing, rescuers said yesterday.

The two boats with a total of 35 sailors on board capsized in the area in the early morning of Friday and Saturday. Sixteen sailors have been rescued so far.

"Zhehai No 308" freighter, carrying 5,415.04 tons of rolled steel, was heading for Viet Nam from Jingtang Harbour in North China's Hebei Province, when it suddenly went missing early Saturday morning.

A source with the Nanhai Salvage Bureau of the Ministry of Communications said two salvage vessels and one helicopter have been dispatched to search for the missing sailors in the sea areas at and around the accident site.

The second mate, who is among the rescued, recalled that the cargo ship began tilting to one side at around 4 am on Saturday, probably due to movement of cargoes on the freighter, and sank quickly at about 5 am.

He said some of the panicked sailors aboard the ship escaped on its only life-raft.

No one has yet been found on the other fishing boat called "Qionglingao 10021," which capsized 33 sea miles (61 kilometres) northwest of Yangpu Harbour in South China's Hainan Province at 2 am Friday morning. The 12 crew members were still unaccounted for after two days of rescue efforts.

A helicopter and three rescue boats have been dispatched to the area to search for survivors and the rescue work was continuing at press time. The reason for the sinking of the fishing boat carrying 50 tons, is not known yet.

It is reported that Beibu Gulf has been experiencing bad weather with strong winds of force 7 to 8 with the height of waves reaching 3 to 4 metres.  

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