Helicopter rescues 10 Chinese sailors trapped on blazing fishing boat in East China Sea

Rescue efforts in East China Sea, off coast of Shanghai, hindered by strong winds and high waves

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 December, 2016, 1:11pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 December, 2016, 1:11pm

Ten Chinese sailors trapped on a burning fishing boat have been rescued by helicopter, mainland media reported.

The fire began on the boat just after 1pm on Tuesday when it was about 167km off the coast of Shanghai in the East China Sea, Thepaper.cn reported.

The blaze is believed to have started in the engine room of the Fujian-based boat, but strong winds of up to 35 nautical miles an hour (65 km/h) and six-metre-high waves meant it was impossible for other rescue boats to approach the vessel safely.

As the fire begin to spread, two helicopters from the Ministry of Transport’s Donghai No 2 Flying Rescue Service in Shanghai took off and headed out towards the fishing boat.

By the time the helicopters arrived, the boat’s engines had already failed and the vessel had drifted more than 210km away from where it was when the fire started.

The helicopters were able to lower ropes to the crew on the stricken vessel and rescue all 10 fishermen on board, despite the strong winds and worsening weather conditions.

The rescue mission took about three hours, the report said.