By:Staff WriterColombo (LNW): Sri Lankan assistance has been sought after a Chinese vessel with 39 crew members capsized in the Indian Ocean.
The Chinese fishing vessel had capsized in the central Indian Ocean, with its crew of 17 Chinese, 17 Indonesian and five Filipino sailors missing, state media reported Wednesday, according to Reuters.
A multinational search and rescue operation was under way to locate the mariners, and China’s premier called on authorities to strengthen safety procedures for fishing operations at sea.
The missing vessel, named Lu Peng Yuan Yu 028, capsized at about 3 am Beijing time on Tuesday (1900 GMT Monday).
President Xi Jinping ordered the coordinated search, CCTV said, but “so far, no missing persons have been found”.
Teams from around the region are now at the scene and China has deployed two commercial vessels — the Lu Peng Yuan Yu 018 and Yuan Fu Hai — to help in the operation.
“It is necessary to further strengthen the safety management of fishing vessels at sea and implement preventive measures to ensure the safety of maritime transportation,” Premier Li Qiang said, urging relevant ministries to strengthen oversight of the fishing sector
Beijing’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs launched an “emergency mechanism for consular protection” involving embassies and consulates in Australia, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Indonesia, the Philippines and other countries, according to CCTV
Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines have also expressed their willingness to join in the search. Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency said the capsizing occurred about 4,600 kilometers (2,900 miles) northwest of Australia.
Several ships and an Australian Defense Force P-8A Poseidon aircraft have been searching the area. The Indian Ocean stretches from South Asia and the Arabian Peninsula to east Africa and Western Australia. No survivors or life rafts have been spotted.
The Philippine Coast Guard Command Center said Wednesday it was monitoring the situation and coordinating with the Chinese Embassy in Manila, as well as search and rescue teams operating near the vessel’s last known location.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said it was coordinating the search in what it called a remote location in the Indian Ocean, about 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles) northwest of the coastal city of Perth.
It said the agency received a distress beacon signal from the fishing vessel at about 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, Australian time, and that weather conditions in the area Tuesday were “extreme,” but had improved by Wednesday.