Crewmen airlifted to safety from deck of sinking mainland ship

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 02 January, 2009, 12:00am

The Government Flying Service rescued 10 crewmen from a sinking mainland freighter in the South China Sea yesterday.

The men, all mainlanders, were plucked off the ship's deck in the morning and transferred to the flying service headquarters.

All 10 were reported to be uninjured, with no need for a hospital check-up.

The Shun Fat 328 sent an emergency signal to the Guangdong Rescue Co-ordination Centre at 3am yesterday, and the message - a request for a helicopter rescue - was passed to Hong Kong's Government Flying Service.

The flying service sent one fixed-wing aircraft and a Super Puma helicopter to the vessel, which was in trouble 130km southwest of Hong Kong.

The rescue was performed amid winds blowing at up to 55km/h while waves as high as 3.6 metres rocked the ship, which was listing at a 45- degree angle.

The rescuers used a winch to lift the crewmen to safety.

'The movement of the vessel and the slippery deck were the most difficult parts in the operation,' helicopter Captain Bruce Wong Ho-man said. The rescue took 90 minutes.

Government Flying Service helicopters were also involved in two other operations yesterday morning, rescuing two hikers from the hills of Hong Kong.