Vietnamese authorities have concluded that a Chinese vessel rammed and sank a local fishing boat in Vietnam’s waters this week after hearing reports from the fishers aboard.
The damaged fishing boat QNg 98459, captained by Huynh Van Thach, with 10 crew members on board was hauled by a fellow boat steered by Huynh Bi to the border guard office in the central Vietnamese city of Da Nang on Saturday.
A much bigger vessel intentionally crashed into QNg 98459 when the Vietnamese ship was fishing some 70 nautical miles (130km) off Con Co Island, administered by the central province of Quang Tri on Friday afternoon.
“While the crew members were sleeping, our boat was rammed by a king-size vessel with a blue hull, gray cabin, and Chinese letters written on its side,” Captain Thach, who is from Quang Ngai, recounted.
The force of the first strike threw seven of the fishermen overboard, the captain said, adding that two men on the vessel, who were speaking a Chinese dialect, decided to hit the Vietnamese boat again despite his call for help.
The Chinese vessel ignored the fishermen and left after the attack, which damaged the boat’s side and cabin, causing water to pour into its deck and all property to sink, Thach added.
The captain managed to contact Huynh Bi, who was fishing about five nautical miles away and arrived at the scene to offer assistance.
Another ship operating nearby also came to rescue the victims and helped bail water out of the boat to prevent it from completely submerging.
The fishermen had to wait until the waves eased to be able to tow the ship back to the mainland, with all the crew members safe and sound.
After hearing reports from the fishermen, Ha Le, deputy head of the Vietnam Fisheries Resources Surveillance, said that he had sent a notice to request China to clarify the incident.
Chinese authorities have responded that they are investigating the case and asked for an accurate code of the vessel.
Vietnamese officers have been assigned to work with the fishermen to identify the vessel responsible for the attack, Le said.
The incident was initially reported by the National Committee for Search and Rescue and updated by the fishermen after they were brought ashore, the official added.
The heavily damaged fishing boat is seen in the following photos.