Monday, January 9, 2012

Japan halts search for Vietnamese missing sailors

The Japan Coast Guard dispatched patrol helicopters to scour the waters within the Philippine territory where the Vietnamese cargo ship reportedly went down, but found no trace of the ship or its crew.

The search began at 10.30am and, at 02.00pm the Japanese side announced that they found nothing and brought the activity to a halt, said Nguyen Anh Vu, director of the Vietnam Marine Search and Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC).

Japan resumed the search after Vietnamese Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang presented a diplomatic note to Minister Counsellor Hideo Suziki at the Japanese Embassy in Hanoi on January 6, requesting Japan to assist with investigation.

The Japanese side contacted agencies in the Philippine for permission after the Ministry of Transport sent an urgent note to the Vietnamese Embassy in Manila, asking it to work with relevant Philippine agencies to allow Japanese helicopters to conduct the search.

On January 5, the commander of the Philippine Coast Guard pledged to deploy helicopters to support Vietnam’s research and rescue efforts. According to the commander, helicopters are the only way to look for the missing crewmen as the area where the cargo ship sank is inaccessible for rescue ships.

In related news, a requiem for the crew of the Vinalines Queen will be held at 2pm today, January 9 at Thang Phuc Pagoda in Tien Lang district, the northern port city of Hai Phong.

The Vinalines Queen with 23 crew members on board went missing on December 25 while transporting 54,400 tonnes of nickel ore from Morowali Port in Indonesia to Ningde Port in China. It was later confirmed to have sunk.

The only crewman that survived, Dau Ngoc Hung from Nghe An province, arrived back in Vietnam on January 4, reportedly in good condition.

Search and rescue teams continue to look for the 22 remaining crewmen, but there has been no success so far.