January, 11 2012 10:49:00

Rescue ship caused accident that sank fishing boat: sailors

KHANH HOA — The 15 sailors who were rescued after their fishing vessel sank off the central Khanh Hoa coast on January 8 have said it was their rescuer, Liberia-flagged cargo ship Main Trader, that had hit them in the first place.

On Monday, Le Nguyen Thong, owner of the fishing boat BTh 98379 TS and its captain, Nguyen Thanh Le, told the Nha Trang Port Authority that Main Trader had struck the fishing boat, causing it to sink.

Earlier, it had been reported to the Viet Nam Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre that the sailors had been rescued by chance as the Main Trade that happened to be passing by.

In the request sent to the Nha Trang Port Authority, captain Le has asked relevant Vietnamese authorities to make an announcement on the accident and demanded that the Liberian ship pays VND3 billion (US$142,000) in compensation for the losses incurred by the sinking of the fishing vessel. VND1 billion of this amount is for the loss of catch that it was carrying when it sank.

The rescued sailors told the Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that it was Main Trader that caused the accident at a place some 44 nautical miles from Phu Quy Island in central Binh Thuan Province, some 90 miles off the Viet Nam coast.

The Liberian cargo ship had gone one to two miles away before returning to the spot where it had hit the fishing boat and rescued the sailors from the sinking vessel, they said.

On Monday, the Nha Trang Port Authority affirmed that they had received the petition from the fishing boat and collected statements from the sailors.

Meanwhile, authorities of southernmost Ca Mau Province said on Monday that they have received no information about the fate of the 11 crew members of fishing boat CM 99219 TS which sank in the Gulf of Thailand on January 2, 2012 after being hit by a foreign ship that has not been identified.

Le Dung, Deputy Chairman of Ca Mau People's Committee, said they have no idea where the missing sailors were.

The owner of the fishing boat, Tuan, told the Tuoi Tre newspaper that a man calling himself Mai from Thailand has provided him with some information about the missing sailors.

Tuan said that in a recent phone call, Mai said the sailors were in Thailand and asked Tuan for VND65 million ($3,100) in exchange for their safe return.

Tuan has reported the situation to Vietnamese Coast Guard and asked relatives of the missing sailors not to send any money to Mai.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has exchanged diplomatic notes with the embassies of Thailand and Cambodia in Ha Noi, asking them to help search for the missing sailors. — VNS

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