China declines to rescue damaged Vietnamese vessel at sea

By Viet Anh, Viet Tuan, Dac Thanh   October 3, 2019 | 09:08 pm PT
China declines to rescue damaged Vietnamese vessel at sea
A Vietnamese fishing vessel from the central province of Quang Nam. Photo by VnExpress/Dac Thanh.
China suggested a paid-for rescue operation after being contacted for help with a stranded Vietnamese fishing vessel near Vietnam’s Paracel Islands last Sunday.

Confirming this at a press meet Thursday, Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said that the Vietnamese ship from the central province of Quang Nam had an internal component damaged and was stranded near the Passu Keah Reef last Sunday.

The National Committee for Incident, Natural Disaster Response and Search and Rescue and the Vietnam Foreign Ministry sent a diplomatic note to China requesting help with rescuing the stranded Vietnamese vessel, said Hang.

While China did send its rescue ships to the area, their crew did not help bring the stranded Vietnamese ship back to Quang Nam, since they believed the vessel only had a mechanical problem and not a life-threatening accident.

Instead, China suggested that fishermen contact a professional Chinese ship-rescue firm and pay for its services. China also said there was another fishing vessel accompanying the stranded Vietnamese vessel, but did not reveal the second vessel’s identification.

The Vietnam rescue committee then requested Quang Nam authorities and border guard forces to call for other fishing vessels in the area to save the stranded vessel.

A Vietnamese vessel received the request Tuesday and the "ships are expected to reach Vietnamese shores in the next few days," Hang said.

Under the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue, a fishing vessel at risk of sinking with its crew’s lives in danger would be rescued by nearby member states without financial payment.

If a ship has not sunk and its crew’s lives are not deemed in danger, a rescue operation can involve financial payment per mutual agreement.

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