Taiwanese Ship With 49 Passengers Missing

Taiwanese ship with 49 people on board has gone missing near the Falkland Islands.

The ship called Hsiang Fu Chun is a 700-tonne squid fishing vessel. It vanished shortly after the captain said it was sailing off, but no mayday call was made.

Its cabin crew include a Taiwanese captain and chief engineer, along with 11 Chinese, 21 Indonesians, 13 Filipino and two Vietnamese.

Hsiang Fu Chun, which was built 28 years ago, sailed off from Kaohsiung in January and was about 1,700 nautical miles off the coast of the Falkland Islands when it disappeared, according to satellite data.

The ship lost contact with its owners soon after reporting that water was leaking on to the deck at around 3am on February 26.

Some Taiwanese media have said the vessel could have lost power and be drifting or that it could have been hijacked by crew but a Taiwanese search effort has found no trace of it.

The search is being hampered by bad weather and the remoteness of the location, with officials saying it takes six days for a boat and 11 hours for a plane to fly to the area and back again.

Taiwanese authorities have now appealed for help from Argentina and Britain to find the ship.

Huang Hong-yen, spokesman for the Taiwanese Fisheries Agency, said, “We still don’t know where the ship is and what happened to it.”

There was no evidence that the boat has sunk, he said, adding that its system should issue a mayday signal when placed under certain water pressure, but no signal

was sent.

He said the government will do everything it can “even though the search is like searching for a needle in the ocean” but he did not say why it had taken almost two weeks to make the ship’s disappearance public.

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