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Two bodies found in Chinese fishing vessel crew search

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Two bodies were found Thursday in the search for 39 crew members missing after a Chinese fishing vessel capsized in the Indian Ocean, Beijing’s state media reported.

The ongoing search operation following the capsizing of the Lu Peng Yuan Yu 028 “found and salvaged the remains of two victims,” Xinhua news agency reported.

The Chinese vessel overturned in the early hours of Tuesday, carrying 17 Chinese, 17 Indonesians and five Filipinos.

No details were given on the nationalities of the two bodies found on Thursday.

The boat capsized within Australia’s vast search-and-rescue region, Beijing’s ambassador to Canberra said Thursday, noting it was 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles) to the west of Perth, the state capital of Western Australia.

Countries are responsible for ensuring search and rescue in determined areas of the world’s oceans under an international maritime convention.

Australia has sent three airplanes and four ships to help in the international search-and-rescue efforts, ambassador Xiao Qian said earlier, urging Canberra to send more aircraft, ships and personnel to find the vessel.

He also requested that the Australian government coordinate with other nations closer to the capsized ship.

China was now seeking further help in coordination with Australian defense officials, he said.

“To this moment, no individual has been found alive,” Xiao said.

An Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) spokesperson said Australia was organizing rescue efforts and liaising with Chinese authorities in the search for survivors.

Aircraft, including an Australian military plane, were currently scouring a 12,000 square kilometer (4,600 square miles) area south of where the upturned hull had been discovered as part of the “multinational” effort, the spokesperson said.

Seven-meter waves

“A number of merchant ships and other vessels have been assisting with the search and will continue to do so today. AMSA would like to thank these vessels and their crews for their invaluable assistance,” the spokesperson said.

The fishing vessel’s distress beacon was first detected as Cyclone Fabian drove waves as high as seven meters (23 feet) and winds as strong as 120 kilometers per hour (75 miles per hour) through the area.

And rough weather conditions have continued to hamper rescue efforts, AMSA said.

The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) in Canberra “remains hopeful for a successful outcome, however the time elapsed combined with the weather conditions experienced make survival more challenging,” they added.

Beijing has deployed two commercial vessels to the area—the Lu Peng Yuan Yu 018 and Yuan Fu Hai—to help with the operation, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

Footage aired by CCTV showed mariners on board the boats carrying out search-and-rescue operations.

Two other foreign merchant ships and four fishing boats were also at the scene, CCTV said.

Various Chinese government departments were working with their counterparts in Australia, Sri Lanka and the Maldives to send reinforcements to help with the rescue, CCTV reported.

China’s transport ministry has also sent four tugboats to Colombo in Sri Lanka, the closest major port where rescue vessels will dock for supplies and refueling, CCTV said.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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