Vietnam cargo ship sinks off Sri Lanka, 4 missing

A Vietnamese-flagged cargo ship sank off the coast of Sri Lanka, leaving four crew members missing, the Vietnam Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Center (Vietnam MRCC) announced Tuesday.

The Saigon Queen, owned by the Saigon Shipping Joint Stock Company (SSC), was carrying timber from Myanmar to India with 22 crew members onboard when it sank in Sri Lankan waters due to bad weather caused by a storm.

After Vietnam MRCC received a mayday call from the ship at around 12:15 p.m. on Tuesday, it transmitted an emergency announcement to other ships in the vicinity of the Saigon Queen for help.

At 9:20 p.m. the same day, the Cyprus-flagged ship Pacific Skipper rescued three sailors from the Saigon Queen and kept in touch with 16 others who boarded life-rafts after the accident.

Three sailors were still missing. Bad weather and darkness hindered rescue efforts.

At 10:40 p.m. the Pacific Skipper successfully approached the 16 crew members on the life-rafts. The sailors were reported to be in good health, except for one who was slightly injured.

When the Pacific Skipper was bringing the sailors aboard, Saigon Queen’s captain Nguyen Minh Luan, 51, accidently fell into the water. He has been missing ever since.

The Vietnam MRCC told newswire VnExpress it was still working with relevant agencies to search for Luan and three other missing sailors named Hoang Van Ban, 58, Tran Van De, 54, and Pham Phu Huu, 27.

The Pacific Skipper was heading for Bangladesh with 18 rescued sailors. It is expected that the ship will arrive at the port of Mongla on November 3. (Thanh Nien)