Rescue mission

The third day of the rescue mission yields one survivor and 12 bodies

Leopold Chen

A fourth crew member of a sunken Mainland ship has been rescued and 12 bodies recovered yesterday, three days after the ship broke in two near the eye of Typhoon Chaba in the South China Sea.

Hong Kong and Guangdong forces are still searching for 14 missing crew members.

Guangdong authorities said seven planes, 246 ships and 498 fishing boats are searching an area of ​​16,000 square kilometers for the mission.

China Central Television quoted the Guangdong Maritime Search and Rescue Center as saying a fourth crew member was rescued yesterday.

He was found 46 hours after the Continental engineering vessel Fujing 001 sank on Saturday about 300 km southwest of Hong Kong as the signal for typhoon eight was raised.

Of the 30 crew on board, only three were rescued that day as part of the Government Flying Service’s largest ever rescue mission due to the pilots having difficulty accessing the area due to the wind farm under construction.

A helicopter pilot said yesterday the operation was difficult due to the limited information they had about the crash site.

“Initially, when we received the order from the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center, we didn’t have much information. But we needed a plan immediately,” Wing Li Ka-wing said.

“The crash site was far from the base, and the helicopters could only stay there for a short time given their fuel capacity,” Li said. fuel consumption. I had never seen mobilization on such a large scale.”

Cyrus Szeto Chi-pang, the hoist who rescued the three survivors, said the conditions were wild.

“The survivors were being lashed by the waves. We saw them clinging to the railings of the ship which they could have slid into the sea at any moment. We could only see them intermittently as they were engulfed by the waves .”

He went on to say that they usually rescue survivors one at a time, but given the conditions, he winched two survivors in one go at one point.

“We couldn’t predict what would happen next,” Szeto said. “Since we found the ship, we really didn’t want to see people slip away in front of us.”

Rapid changes in wind direction further worsened rescue conditions, making it difficult to calculate the location of survivors or bodies.

“We will not give up any chance we have of finding survivors, and experience tells us that survivors can be found even after a long time,” Li said.

The news came as the Hong Kong Observatory defended its typhoon forecast for Chaba.

“We observed that Chaba had intensified, so we adjusted our estimate and it turned out that we were largely right,” said Choy Chun-wing, the observatory’s acting chief science officer.