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Workshop suggests ways to improve search, rescue work

Update: June, 21/2013 - 10:21
Rescue rehearsals are carried out regularly to enhance the travel safety in Ha Long Bay, northern province of Quang Ninh. Photo: Van Duc.—VNA/VNS Photo

HA NOI (VNS)— Officials from ASEAN member nations and China came up with a number of suggestions to address the shortcomings in search and rescue operations in the East Sea as they wound up a two-day workshop in Ha Noi yesterday.

The participants, mainly Government officials and academics, proposed setting up a directory of the contact numbers of agencies that co-ordinate search and rescue operations in the region; using English as the common language of communication between all the regional search-and-rescue centres and establishing a hotline, as well as a website on related issues.

Other suggestions included taking advantage of the resources currently used by other maritime civilian agencies, including those working in the oil and gas industry, for rescue and search operations and regularly holding workshops between all parties to share information and experiences of major issues.

The participants from mainland China, Malaysia and Singapore all recommended that regional search and rescue services also hold regular drills.

Several commented that ASEAN countries and China need to work out a common system to the same standard and ensure that the practices and procedures are used by every country in the region, particularly those that concern rescued victims.

Any parties that have not yet joined the 1979 International Convention on Search and Rescue were advised to do so as soon as possible.

The workshop agreed that in these days, people and ships operating in the East Sea face more risks. This is largely due to the high density of shipping in the area and a lack of suitable equipment, including many boats without effective communications systems, as well as the sometimes unpredictable weather.

The delegates added that despite the increasing attention paid by many countries to search and rescue services, there were still many shortcomings and countries were struggling to meet the demand as the number of incidents at sea has been steadily rising.

According to the Chinese delegation, the country has received 60 requests for its rescue services to respond to incidents in the East Sea over the past six years. In 2006, China rescued 285 Vietnamese fishermen in distress and nearly 1,000 cases involving different countries since November 2007.

A delegate from Brunei said that despite how well-equipped and ready countries are, international co-operation is badly needed to ensure faster and more effective responses to emergency cases.

A lack of a singular co-ordinating mechanism between all regional countries was one of the main reasons behind the current problems during search and rescue operations.

Disputes on sovereignty in the East Sea was also another reason, according to many of the participants.

The suggestions and initiatives aired during the workshop will be forwarded to senior ASEAN and Chinese officials for consideration at the earliest possible time, the workshop heard. — VNS


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