The Foreign Ministry has launched a rescue mission for Chinese seamen on a sinking cargo off the Philippine coast, a statement released from the ministry said on Tuesday.
The Panamanian-registered "Jin Shan", with 28 crew members on board, began to sink near the coast of Ilocos Norte province on Sunday afternoon after springing a leak. It was completely below surface as of 3:00 a.m. on Monday, according to China's Maritime Rescue Coordinating Center (MRCC).
The ministry had closely monitored the accident and immediately launched an emergency rescue plan, according to the statement.
The Chinese embassy had asked the Philippine government for its full cooperation on the day of the accident, the statement added.
The ship, which had sailed from the Solomon Islands bound for Jiangsu province in eastern China, called Beijing's MRCC for help as it cruised 68 nautical miles northwest of Cape Bojeador on the northern Philippines' Luzon island.
Twenty-six seamen in inflatable lifeboats were picked up by a Japanese crude oil vessel. The captain and a technician insisted on staying on the sinking cargo ship to rescue the goods.
The Japanese ship "Towada" was heading towards Japan and the 26 seamen were in "very good condition" the statement said.
China had expressed its gratitude for help from the Philippines and the ministry and the local embassy would continue their efforts toward the rescue of the two who had stayed behind, as well as settlement for the saved Chinese seamen, the statement added.
(Xinhua News Agency February 20, 2008)