39 missing after Chinese fishing boat capsizes in middle of Indian Ocean


Several ships and aircraft searched Wednesday for 39 people reported missing after a Chinese fishing boat capsized in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said the accident happened around 3 a.m. Tuesday. The report said the crew includes 17 members from China, 17 from Indonesia and five from the Philippines.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Qiang have ordered Chinese diplomats abroad, as well as the agriculture and transportation ministries, to assist in the search for survivors.


“All-out efforts” must be made in the rescue operation, Xi was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua News Agency. Li ordered unspecified measures to “reduce casualties and strengthen safety management of fishing vessels at sea to ensure safe maritime transport and production,” Xinhua said.

No word was given on the cause of the capsizing.

Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines have also expressed their willingness to join in the search. Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency said the capsizing occurred about 2,900 miles northwest of Australia.

Beijing’s aggressive South China Sea expansion shows its willingness to defy international laws for President Xi Jinping’s visions of power.

Nov. 12, 2020

Several ships and an Australian Defense Force P-8A Poseidon aircraft have been searching the area. The Indian Ocean stretches from South Asia and the Arabian Peninsula to East Africa and western Australia. No survivors or life rafts have been spotted.

The Philippine Coast Guard Command Center said Wednesday that it was monitoring the situation and coordinating with the Chinese Embassy in Manila, as well as with search-and-rescue teams operating near the vessel’s last-known location.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said it was coordinating the search in what it called a remote location in the Indian Ocean, about 3,100 miles northwest of the coastal city of Perth. It said the agency received a distress-beacon signal from the fishing vessel about 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, Australian time, and that weather conditions in the area Tuesday were “extreme” but had improved by Wednesday.

The search covered an area virtually in the center of the Indian Ocean. The capsized hull was spotted and the transmitter detected more than 620 miles south of Sri Lanka, with the nearest port appearing to be the island chain of the Maldives, about 310 miles to the north of the search area.


A Chinese fishing fleet of roughly 300 vessels has been scooping up sea life near the Galapagos Islands and is now moving south into Peruvian waters.

Sept. 23, 2020

The Lu Peng Yuan Yu 028 was based in the eastern Chinese coastal province of Shandong, operated by the Penglai Jinglu Fishery Co., according to the reports. Another Chinese vessel, Lu Peng Yuan Yu 018, is operating near the upturned hull and has been asked to conduct a grid search for survivors, according to news reports.

China is believed to operate the world’s largest fishing fleet. Many of the boats stay at sea for months or even years at a time, supported by Chinese state maritime security agencies and a sprawling network of support vessels.

Chinese fishing vessels operating illegally are known to sail “dark,” with their mandatory tracking device that gives a ship’s position either switched off, transmitting intermittently or providing false identifiers.