The Vietnam Maritime Administration has asked Chinese authorities to help clarify accusations that a foreign ship which rescued Vietnamese fishermen after their boat sank last week actually caused the accident.
A report in Tuoi Tre on Wednesday quoted Do Duc Tien, deputy chief of Vietnam Maritime Administration, as saying that they asked for help from China, because the ship, the Liberian-flagged Main Trader, was set to stop in China.
If it is concluded that the Main Trader crashed into the fishermen's boat, it will be asked to pay compensation, Tien said.
Previously in its reports to Vietnamese maritime agencies, the boat's owner asked the foreign ship to pay VND3 billion (US$142,680) in compensation for the damaged boat and devices, along with more than 10 tons of fish onboard.
On Sunday, Main Trader, which was on its way from Singapore to China, rescued the 15 Vietnamese fishermen whose boat sank the day before after being crashed into by unidentified ship.
After the rescue, the fishermen were transferred to Vietnam Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Center's ship and were brought to Nha Trang Town's harbor on Monday.
However, later that same day, the fishing boat's captain and owner sent letters to local agencies, saying that it was Main Trader that caused the accident, and that the boat didn't accidentally rescue the fishermen as it claimed, VnExpress reported.
The newswire quoted Captain Nguyen Thanh Le as saying that the fishing boat from the central province of Binh Thuan was on its way home after one month of being offshore when the accident occurred.
He said the boat was slowing down because its generator needed repairs.
At around 8 a.m. on Sunday when it was about 44 sea miles off the Phu Quy Island, Binh Thuan, a ship moving at a high speed crashed into the fishing boat's back, breaking it, according to Le.
More than half of the crewmen were thrown into the water, while others who were still onboard made emergency calls and threw life jackets to their fellow fishermen, Le said. He added that the boat sank a couple of minutes later.
Mai Van Tuan, one of the crewmen, said the men drifted without having anything to hold on until the foreign ship came back the next day and rescued them.
In the interview with Tuoi Tre, Tien said it was unreasonable that the fishermen didn't report the case to local authorities right when they were rescued.
"Usually, once fishermen get onto the ship that causes an accident, they never leave it until the ship agrees to come back to pay compensation. However, we are asking China to clarify the case," Tien said.