June 1, 2023

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39 missing after a Chinese fishing boat capsized in the middle of the Indian Ocean

Several ships and aircraft on Wednesday searched for 39 people missing after a Chinese fishing boat capsized in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

China’s state broadcaster CCTV said the incident occurred at around 3 a.m. on Tuesday. The report stated that the crew included 17 Chinese, 17 Indonesians and five Filipinos.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Qiang have ordered Chinese diplomats abroad, as well as the ministries of agriculture and transportation, to help search for survivors.

China’s state news agency Xinhua quoted Xi as saying that “all-out efforts” should be made in the rescue operation. Xinhua said Li ordered unspecified measures to “reduce losses and strengthen safety management for fishing vessels at sea to ensure safe sea transportation and production.”

There was no information about the cause of the coup.

Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines have also expressed willingness to participate in the research. Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency said the coup occurred about 4,600 kilometers (2,900 miles) northwest of Australia.

Several ships and an Australian Defense Force P-8A Poseidon aircraft are searching the area. The Indian Ocean extends from southern Asia and the Arabian Peninsula to eastern Africa and western Australia. No survivors or life rafts were spotted.

The Philippine Coast Guard Command Center said Wednesday that it is monitoring the situation and coordinating with the Chinese Embassy in Manila, as well as search and rescue teams operating near the ship’s last known location.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said it was coordinating the search at what it described as a remote location in the Indian Ocean, about 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles) northwest of the port city of Perth. It said the agency received a distress signal from the trawler at around 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, Australian time, and that weather conditions in the area on Tuesday were “extreme”, but had improved by Wednesday.

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Along the Bay of Bengal at the northern tip of the Indian Ocean, Myanmar and Bangladesh were in the process of recovering from a powerful cyclone that battered their coasts.causing widespread destruction and killing at least 21 people, and hundreds more are believed to be missing.

Merchant ships and fishing vessels in the area were also searching for survivors on Wednesday.

The agency said a Perth-based Challenger rescue plane would drop a buoy to help model the drift to further aid the search.

The research covered an area roughly in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The upturned structure was spotted and detected by the transmitter more than 1,000 km (620 mi) south of Sri Lanka, and the nearest port appeared to be the Maldives chain of islands, about 500 km (310 mi) north of the search area.

Luo Bingyuan Yu 028 was based in the eastern coastal province of Shandong, and operated by Penglai Jinglu Fisheries Co., Ltd., according to reports. The Indonesian agency reported that another Chinese ship, Luo Bingyuan Yu 018, was operating near the overturned hull and had been asked to conduct a grid search for survivors.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said additional rescue assets were on their way to the scene.

We will continue to take all possible measures with all parties to search for and rescue missing persons. The Chinese side thanks the Australian Maritime Search and Rescue Administration for quickly dispatching aircraft and coordinating the passage of foreign ships to participate in the search and rescue, Wang told reporters at a daily briefing on Wednesday.

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China is believed to operate the largest fishing fleet in the world. Many of them remain at sea for months or even years at a time, supported by China’s state maritime security agencies and a sprawling network of support vessels.

Chinese squid fishing vessels have been documented using broad nets to illegally catch overfished tuna as part of the increase in unregulated activity in the Indian Ocean.According to a report released in 2021 by a Norway-based monitoring group that highlighted growing concerns about the lack of international cooperation to protect marine species on the high seas.

The group, called Trygg Mat Tracking, found that the number of squid vessels on the high seas of the Indian Ocean – where hunting for the species is not regulated – has increased sixfold since 2016.

The US Coast Guard was also involved in a serious encounter with Chinese ships Not far from the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador in 2022 during a mission to inspect ships for any signs of illegal, unreported or unregulated fishing.

Chinese fishing vessels operating illegally have been known to sail “in the dark” with mandatory tracking device that gives the vessel’s location either off, sends erratically, or provides fake identifiers.

In 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was thought to have landed somewhere in the Indian Ocean with 239 people on board. The still missing Boeing 777 became invisible to civilian radar when its transponder locator stopped transmitting during a flight from Kuala Lumpur.


Associated Press writers Rod McGuirk in Canberra, Australia, Ninik Karmini in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines, contributed to this report.

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