Sources with the Maritime Search and Rescue Center of the South China Sea said Monday that China's rescue ship the Nanhaijiu 111 had called off its search for missing Vietnamese fishermen who were caught in typhoon Chanchu.
Tang Zhongfa, the vice director of the rescue center, said as of 10:30 PM Sunday no further Vietnamese fishing boats had been found throughout the extensive search area. Experts suggested boats which are still missing may have returned to Vietnam now that the weather had cleared.
Tang said up to 5:00 PM Monday afternoon rescue ships had sailed 664 sea miles covering an area of 13,471 square kilometers. China's rescue teams had found 22 Vietnamese boats, 500 fishermen, and 21 bodies. They had rescued and provided emergency assistance to 15 Vietnamese boats with 330 fishermen on board.
Vietnam said it had lost contact with 32 boats and 356 fishermen during the typhoon. As of last Saturday seven boats and 88 fishermen remained missing.
Tang said Chinese rescue vessels are ready to renew their search as soon as they receive any fresh information regarding the location of any stranded fishermen.
China Maritime Search and Rescue Center was informed by the Chinese Embassy in Vietnam last Friday afternoon that 22 Vietnamese fishing boats carrying hundreds of fishermen were caught up in Typhoon Chanchu and were running low on fuel and drinking water. Vietnam asked China to help in the search operations.
(Xinhua News Agency May 23, 2006)