Search ongoing for cargo vessel missing off northern Taiwan

2017/10/09 17:07:48
Photo courtesy of the Tamsui coast guard

Photo courtesy of the Tamsui coast guard

Taipei, Oct. 9 (CNA) The search is still on for a cargo ship that went missing in waters off northern Taiwan on Friday, the Maritime Patrol Directorate General said Monday as it dismissed a report that the ship had been towed to shore in China by a Chinese fishing boat.

The cargo vessel, named "Hsin Fa Erh (新發貳號)," set sail for east China's Fujian Province from Taipei Harbor on Friday afternoon, according to the agency under the Coast Guard Administration (CGA).

The ship's skipper, surnamed Tsai (蔡), made contact with Taipei Harbor at 7 p.m. the same day and reported they had encountered strong winds and rough waves and that the "Hsin Fa Erh's" engine was not functioning properly.

The 165-ton cargo vessel with six Taiwanese and Indonesian crew members on board planned to sail back to Taipei Harbor due to the inclement weather and engine problems, but local authorities lost contact with the ship at 8:34 p.m. Friday.

It was about 14 nautical miles away from Taipei Harbor and 11 nautical miles from Taoyuan Zhuwei Fishing Harbor at the time of the last contact, the bureau said.

The National Rescue Command Center is still searching for the cargo vessel, with the Ministry of National Defense and the National Airborne Service Corps each dispatching a helicopter and reconnaissance aircraft and the CGA sending patrol ships to join the recuse effort.

The Maritime Patrol Directorate General, meanwhile, dismissed as untrue a Liberty Times' report that the "Hsin Fa Erh" was actually tugged to China's shore, saying the paper may have mistaken another Kaohsiung-registered cargo vessel -- the "Ta Shin" -- for the "Hsin Fa Erh."

It said the "Ta Shin" stalled about 32 nautical miles from Kinmen Island's Liaoluo Bay on Sunday after suffering an engine breakdown, and its owner sent a message to China asking for help towing the ship to safety.

(By Sunrise Huang and Evelyn Kao)
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