Foreign ships join continued search for Vietnamese freighter

TN News

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Vietnamese search and rescue authorities said Saturday 13 foreign ships traveling in the vicinity of the Vinalines Queen freighter, which allegedly went missing off the Philippines on Dec. 25, have accepted a request to search for the ship.

Nguyen Anh Vu, director of the Vietnam Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Center (VMRCC), said the search will be launched on the sea stretch running from the location where the ship was last spotted to the location where one of the 23 crew members of the 190-meter-long, 56,040 DWT Vinalines Queen was rescued.

On Dec. 30, 2011, VMRCC was informed that Dau Ngoc Hung, 31, was rescued by the UK-owned London Courage ship, which was on its way to Singapore.

Hung, believed to be the only survivor, was found drifting on a lifeboat some 350 kilometers from the site where the Vinalines Queen was located before it went missing.

Hung said that the ship, which was carrying 54,000 tons of nickel ore, sank at around 7 a.m. on Dec 25, 2011, after it tilted too much to the left.

Hung managed to get on a lifeboat released on the right side of the ship and had been drifting on the sea when the London Courage rescued him.

He was reported to be in good health.

According to VMRCC, the London Courage will bring Hung to Singapore on January 4. Singaporean authorities have pledged to help Hung return home.

The US$29 million Vinalines Queen's last communication was received at 7 a.m. local time on Dec 25, 2011, when it reported to the VMRCC that it was traveling at an 18 degree incline near the northeast coast of the Philippines' Luzon Island.

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The ship lost contact with the parent company Vietnam National Shipping Lines (Vinalines) afterward.

Since then, foreign rescue forces have been searching for the ship, which was on its way from Morowali port in Indonesia to Ningde port in China. Searchers have only found an oil slick near to the site.

According to Vinalines, the ship was built in Japan in 2005 and has an advanced self-protection system that can send out emergency signals in dangerous situations. This would allow rescuers to detect its location even when it is under water.

However, since it went missing, Vinalines Queen has not sent any signal.

Bui Van Cac, deputy director of the Vinalines Shipping Co., said all of the 23 sailors had purchased insurance.

According to a Thanh Nien source, the insurance for each sailor is estimated at $40,000.

Under Vietnamese law, a person is declared missing after two years of absence.

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