Two Vietnamese fishing boats were attacked, one of which was sunk, by two Chinese vessels while operating in Vietnam’s own waters on Saturday.
Nguyen Xuan Truc, a radio operator in Binh Chau Commune of Binh Son District in the central province of Quang Ngai, confirmed the report on Sunday afternoon.
Truc said that he had received the report via radio from Huynh Van Khanh, captain of the fishing boat QNg 95011, at around 11:00 am, saying that his ship and the boat QNg 90479, captained by Vo Van Luu, had been pursued by two Chinese vessels, along with two speedboats, for hours.
“The men were operating in a maritime area near Da Loi Islet [part of Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago] at the time of the incident,” Truc recalled.
Khanh’s boat managed to escape thanks to its smaller size, meaning the Chinese fleet exerted all efforts to hunt down the ship of Captain Luu.
At around 2:00 pm on the same day, Luu’s boat sank with five fishermen aboard forced to hang onto its prow and wait for help.
“Khanh said he could not assist his fellow fishermen as he was afraid the Chinese ships would attack him if he approached the victims. He could only observe the situation at a distance of about one nautical mile,” Truc said.
Khanh was only able to rescue the five fishermen once their attackers decided to leave at 6:30pm in the evening.
During an interview with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Sunday, a spokesman for the Quang Ngai Fishery Association said that a report of the incident had been submitted to the relevant authorities.
Units under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Committee of Search and Rescue have been urged to enact appropriate measures to deal with the incident and provide assistance to the victims.
The provincial border guards have also been kept in contact with the fishing ship of Captian Khanh to stay updated on the case.