MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – Two Filipino sailors have died and 16 others are missing after their cargo ship sank in waters near Vietnam, the Philippine foreign department said Sunday, January 4.
The cargo vessel Bulk Jupiter went down on January 2 off the coast of Vung Tau City and so far, only one Filipino crewman has been rescued alive, the department said in a statement, without specifying why the ship sank.
Vietnamese authorities, who are leading the rescue operations, have recovered two bodies and are still searching for the other 16 crew, the statement said quoting the embassy in Hanoi.
About 10% of Filipinos work overseas – with many working on cargo ships –attracted by the higher salaries than they can earn at home. Their remittances are a major pillar supporting the country’s economy.
The Bulk Jupiter capsized and sank 150 nautical miles off the coast of Vietnam, according to Vietnam-based news website Tuoitrenews.com.
In a statement, the owner of the vessel, Gearbulk, said the ship left Kuantan, Malaysia, on December 30 with 19 Filipino crew members on board.
The vessel was carrying 46,400 metric tons of bauxite from Malaysia to China.
The Japanese Coast Guard received the distress alert and initiated search and rescue operations. An empty lifeboat and life raft were found in the area by another vessel, the company said.
“Repeated attempts to contact the vessel on all communication channels were unsuccessful,” Gearbulk added.
The Vietnamese national rescue committee has ordered rescue teams to head to the site and join in the search and rescue operations after it received emergency signals from the ship at 9:41 am on Friday, the report said.
The news website also published a list of the missing crew members.
In a statement, Gearbulk said the search and rescue operations, led by the Singapore Maritime Rescue Coordination Center, “continues and is being stepped up.”
“We will use this opportunity to thank everyone involved for their help and support in this difficult situation. Our thoughts are with the crew and their families,” the company said.
On Saturday, January 4, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the country’s embassy in Hanoi is coordinating with the Vietnam Maritime Research and Rescue Coordinating Center and the Philippine Honorary Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City in gathering updates.
It is also making arrangements for the repatriation of the rescued seafarer and the retrieved remains, according to DFA Spokesperson Charles Jose. – Rappler.com
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