Five Filipino crew members who went missing after their Chinese vessel sank in the Indian Ocean have been found dead after a week of search and rescue operations, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Wednesday.
Ma. Teresita Daza, DFA spokesperson, said the agency is coordinating with the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) on the repatriation of the victims and the benefits due to their families.
She added there were also other nationalities whose remains were recovered.
On May 17, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian reported that the Chinese fishing vessel Lu Peng Yuan Yu 028 (LPY28) capsized in the Indian Ocean. A total of 39 people, including 17 Chinese and five Filipinos, were part of its crew.
Citing information it received from the Chinese government, the DFA said an Indian maritime patrol located the capsized fishing vessel about 1,000 kilometers south of Sri Lanka on May 18. No survivors were found.
The governments of Australia, China, India, and Sri Lanka, among others, deployed a total of 12 vessels and six aircraft to conduct search and rescue operations, which were eventually hindered by bad weather, the DFA said.
On May 23, efforts were shifted to search and recovery given the length of time from the capsizing of the vessel.
The Chinese vessel overturned on May 16, with 17 Chinese, 17 Indonesians, and five Filipinos on board.
“From an analysis of the ship’s capsizing… it is preliminarily judged that there are no survivors from the ship,” Beijing’s transport ministry said in an official social media post.
The boat capsized within Australia’s vast search-and-rescue region, 5,000 kilometers (2,700 nautical miles) to the west of Perth, the state capital of Western Australia.
Chinese state media reported on Monday that seven bodies had been found by Chinese and Sri Lankan rescue vessels, without specifying the nationalities of the dead.
Australia had sent three planes and four ships to help in the international search-and-rescue efforts.
Rescuers had trawled an area of around 64,000 square kilometers and “did not find any sign of survivors,” the ministry said.
The fishing vessel’s distress beacon was first detected last week as Cyclone Fabian drove waves as high as seven meters and winds as strong as 120 kilometers per hour through the area.
Rough weather conditions held back rescue efforts, with the Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC) in Canberra warning of “challenging” survival conditions.
The Chinese transport ministry said rescue boats had sounded their horns for one minute of mourning in the early hours of Tuesday, with only seven vessels remaining on the scene by noon.
“The shipwreck’s condition shows no obvious change from the previous day, and is gradually drifting northeast,” the ministry said.
The capsized vessel was owned by Penglai Jinglu Fishery Company, one of China’s major state-run fishing firms.
It was authorized to fish for neon flying squid and Pacific saury, according to the North Pacific Fisheries Commission.
It left Cape Town in South Africa on May 5 for Busan in South Korea, according to the MarineTraffic tracking website, which last located the vessel on May 10 southeast of Reunion, a tiny French island in the Indian Ocean.
Penglai Jinglu Fishery also runs squid and tuna fishing operations in international waters, including the Indian Ocean and seas surrounding Latin America. With AFP