China calls on Australia to boost ship search efforts

China calls on Australia to boost ship search efforts

China calls on Australia to boost ship search efforts

By Andrew LEESON

Sydney (AFP) May 18, 2023

China urged Australia on Thursday to send more aircraft, ships and personnel to find a fishing vessel that capsized in the Indian Ocean with 39 people aboard.

Chinese vessel the Lu Peng Yuan Yu 028 overturned in the early hours of Tuesday carrying 17 Chinese, 17 Indonesians and five Filipinos.

“We wish that they could send more aircraft, more ships and more staff to that area,” said Xiao Qian, China’s ambassador to Australia, requesting that the Australian government coordinate with other nations closer to the capsized ship.

Countries are responsible for ensuring search and rescue in determined areas of the world’s oceans under an international maritime convention.

Australia had dispatched three airplanes and four ships to help in the international search and rescue efforts, the ambassador said.

China was now seeking further help in coordination with Australian defence officials, he said.

The ship capsized within Australia’s vast search and rescue region, the diplomat said, noting it was 5,000 kilometres (3,100 miles) to the west of Perth, state capital of Western Australia.

“To this moment, no individual has been found alive whatsoever,” Xiao said.

An Australian Maritime Safety Authority spokesperson said Australia was organising rescue efforts and liaising with Chinese authorities in the search for survivors.

Aircraft, including an Australian military plane, were currently scouring a 12,000 square kilometre (4,600 square miles) area south of where the upturned hull had been discovered as part of the “multinational” effort, the spokesperson said.

– Seven-metre waves –

“A number of merchant ships and other vessels have been assisting with the search and will continue to do so today. AMSA would like to thank these vessels and their crews for their invaluable assistance,” the spokesperson said.

The fishing vessel’s distress beacon was first detected as Cyclone Fabian drove waves as high as seven metres (23 feet) and winds as strong as 120 kilometres per hour (75 miles per hour) through the area.

Beijing has deployed two commercial vessels to the area — the Lu Peng Yuan Yu 018 and Yuan Fu Hai — to help with the operation, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

Footage aired by CCTV showed mariners on board the boats carrying out search and rescue operations.

Two other foreign merchant ships and four fishing boats were also at the scene, CCTV said.

Various Chinese government departments were working with their counterparts in Australia, Sri Lanka and the Maldives to send reinforcements to help with the rescue, CCTV reported.

“As of midday on Wednesday (0400 GMT), the missing persons and the lifeboat attached to the long liner have not been found,” CCTV said.

China’s transport ministry has also sent four tugboats to Colombo in Sri Lanka, the closest major port where rescue vessels will dock for supplies and refuelling, CCTV said.


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