NCNA to face questions over missing ships

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 March, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 March, 1993, 12:00am

THE Government will seek clarification from the local branch of the New China News Agency on a reported incursion into Hongkong waters by uniformed Chinese aboard a high-power speedboat.

The vessel, with as many as 20 Chinese aboard, was believed to be responsible for the mysterious disappearance of three cargo ships on Tuesday. All of them reported to the Marine Department that they had been intercepted just before losing radio contact.

The Nha Trang 08 was boarded by four uniformed Chinese from a speedboat within Hongkong waters about one nautical mile south of Bluff Head, off the Stanley peninsula, at 3.40 pm.

The ship, with 27 Vietnamese crew members, was carrying about two dozen second-hand cars and goods vans.

An Auxiliary Air Force helicopter and Marine Police launches went to the scene of the reported interception. They saw no trace of the speedboat or the ship, but found a Vietnamese crewman floating in the water.

Mr Vu Hoai Man, 28, told investigators at the Aberdeen Marine Police base that he had been so frightened when he saw the uniformed Chinese boarding the ship during his maiden voyage that he jumped overboard.

He has been put in a local hotel by the shipping agent.

A Security Branch spokesman said yesterday the Political Adviser's Office would raise the incident with the NCNA.

The local Chinese representatives would also be expected to provide information on the whereabouts of two other ships that went missing in similar circumstances outside Hongkong waters.

At 5.10 pm the Belize-registered Fair Water reported that it was being intercepted by a speedboat with about 20 people aboard south of Po Toi.

The 499-tonne ship was loaded with 40 new Mazda cars and was heading for Haiphong, Vietnam.

A third interception report was received at 6.35 pm from the Panamanian-registered Cargo Bay also south of Po Toi.

The Haiphong-bound 3,100-tonne ship was carrying 94 containers of textiles, electrical appliances and motorcycles.

A Marine Department spokesman said they had informed relevant departments about the reports.

The incursion, if confirmed, would be the first this year.

London and Hanoi last summer expressed concern to Beijing over a series of detentions of Vietnamese ships and seizure of cargoes by uniformed Chinese both within and outside Hongkong waters.