A vessel believed to be Chinese rammed and sank a Vietnamese fishing boat in Vietnam’s waters on March 7, rescued victims said on Tuesday.
Captain Nguyen Tam and four crew members of the fishing ship KH 96640 TS from the south-central province of Khanh Hoa arrived at Hon Ro Port in the province’s Nha Trang City in the afternoon.
The victims were rescued and brought ashore on the boat of Nguyen Teo, Tam’s younger brother, receiving a warm welcome from their family members and neighbors.
The fishing boat of Captain Tam was operating in the maritime area off Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago on the night of March 7 when it was attacked by a king-size ship, Tam recalled.
“The foreign ship was many times bigger than mine, was painted gray and had Chinese letters on its prow,” the Vietnamese captain said.
The allegedly Chinese vessel approached Tan’s ship at high speed, meaning he was unable to avoid the collision, Tam continued.
It rammed the portside of the fishing boat, knocking members aboard off their feet, causing water to quickly pour into the deck through the cracks, he added.
“As the situation was terminal, I told the other members to lower the pannier while contacting another boat to report the incident. We managed to salvage two bottles of fresh water and two boxes of instant noodles,” Captain Tam recounted.
The five fishermen crammed themselves into the small pannier, with little control over which direction they were going.
“We had to curl up to create enough space for one person to recline. We took turns to lie down and rest. During the day, we covered our heads with our own shirts to protect ourselves from the sun,” Do Huu Thanh, one of the crew members, said.
While the victims were floating in the middle of nowhere, their families sent five boats to search the area near the capsized ship.
“At around 10:00 pm on March 9, I spotted a flashing light. I then steered my ship toward the signal and burst into tears of joy when I finally found them,” Captain Teo said.
Mai Thanh Phuc, president of the fishing union in Phuoc Dong Commune, Nha Trang, said that four of the union’s members boats have been attacked by foreign vessels over the past four months.
“While the previous three ships were slightly damaged, the KH 96640 TS was totally wrecked, with their fishermen facing the most severe danger,” Phuc asserted.
Upon arrival at the dock, the five victims were given gifts and support from local organizations.