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12 bodies recovered from fishing boat exploding off southern Vietnam; 3 still missing

Monday, September 21, 2015, 17:05 GMT+7

The bodies of 12 deceased fishermen along with three survivors have been taken to the mainland after a fatal blast shattered a fishing boat off a province in southern Vietnam this week. The Vung Tau Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (Vungtau MRCC) on Saturday afternoon brought ashore the bodies and the survivors of a fishing boat explosion which happened on Wednesday off Con Dao Island of Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, some 120 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City.

Three has remained missing so far.

According to the survivors’ accounts, a fishing vessel numbered BV 9799TS was heading toward the shore on Tuesday when its engine failed.

At midnight, the engine resumed operation.

The boat captain ordered Tran Van Khoa, Nguyen Van Dien, and another man named Doan, who made it through the ordeal, to raise the anchor so the boat could continue its itinerary.

These three survivors recounted they then heard the others on board yelling they had smelled leaking gas.

Out of a sudden, there was a deafening bang, followed by two others.

The explosions tossed everyone aboard into the sea.

The survivors added they then spotted a crew member named Linh, who was in flames all over, jumping into the water before completely disappearing.

They also pulled five others, who were critically injured, so that they could hang onto a fishing net afloat.

These five wounded crew members loosened their grip and gave up one by one out of exhaustion by Wednesday morning.

At 6:00 pm the same day, Khoa – one of the survivors – saw a fishing vessel from afar and summoned all his remaining might to swim toward it.

The boat scooped him up to safety while another fishing boat also came to Dien and Doan’s rescue.

Receiving distress calls, the Vungtau MRCC immediately launched concerted search and rescue efforts, which were joined by the owner of the distressed boat.

Yesterday, the bodies of the 12 deceased crew members were retrieved.

They were handed to their grieving relatives on Saturday, except for one that is on the way to shore today.

Search is ongoing for the three missing crew members.

Luong Truong Phi, vice director of the Vungtau MRCC, said the three survivors, though remaining distraught, are in stable health conditions.

Khoa, 45, is still overwhelmed and grieving over the loss of his son and younger brother in the blast.

Nguyen Xuan Sang, head of the Vietnam Maritime Administration, affirmed that based on the survivors’ accounts and preliminary investigation results, the accident was triggered by a gas explosion aboard.   

Around the time of the accident, the sea was gusty, hampering search and rescue efforts.

Le Thi Beo, 62, who lives in the Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang, burst into tears receiving the body of her 46-year-old son.

Her 62-year-old husband remains lost at sea.

She added out of the 14 fishermen hailing from her commune who were on the boat, nine are dead and another three are missing.

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