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Hong Kong shipping and logistics

10 Indian crew missing after Hong Kong freighter sinks off Philippine coast

The 33,205-tonne Emerald Star sent a distress signal early Friday as the Hong Kong-registered vessel was sailing some 280 kilometres east of the northern tip of the Philippines

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 October, 2017, 10:51am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 October, 2017, 10:45pm

A Hong Kong-registered freighter sank in rough seas off the Philippine coast, leaving 10 crew members missing, Japan’s coastguard said.

It said a distress call was received early Friday from the 33,205-tonne Emerald Star from a location about 280 kilometres off the Philippines’ eastern coast.

It said 26 crew members, all Indians, were aboard.

The coastguard said three passing freighters rescued 16 of the crew members from the sea, and a fourth freighter later also joined the search in the area where the Hong Kong ship is believed to have sunk.

Two patrol aircraft dispatched by the coastguard are searching from the sky, while three patrol boats are still on their way, slowed down by a storm in the area.

Philippine coastguard spokesman Armand Balilo said the agency attempted to dispatch a ship and helicopter to help search the area, which is beyond the country’s territorial waters, but were turned back by stormy weather.

Coastguard agencies in nearby countries were also alerted about the ship sinking, he said. He said it was standard procedure for the Philippines to help out in such a case.

“Search and rescue missions are borderless,” Balilo said by telephone in Manila.

Photos taken by a Japanese coastguard aircraft showed a damaged lifeboat believed to be from the sunken ship floating in choppy waters, along with traces of an oil leak.

The coastguard said the cause of the sinking was not known.