The lives of 10 crew members aboard a Vietnamese freighter were under threat as the vessel reported to Chinese maritime authorities on Tuesday afternoon it was sinking in the South China Sea off the Hainan Province.
The vessel HUE09 sent emergency signals to the Hainan Maritime Safety Bureau at 4:15 p.m., saying it was sinking about 40 nautical miles off Dongfang City, Hainan Island, and calling for help.
The bureau immediately asked a vessel at a nearby drilling platform to go to the site for rescue efforts.
"The Vietnamese freighter is in critical conditions," a bureau official said.
It was not known at the moment what caused the Vietnamese vessel to sink.
The Hainan Meteorological Observatory issued a tropical depression warning at 5 p.m. on Tuesday in the water near Dongfang, saying the wind speed was up to 57.6 km per hour.
The eye of the tropical depression was moving west-northwestward at a speed of 10 km per hour on Tuesday afternoon and is expected to hit land in Vietnam on Wednesday morning.
(Xinhua News Agency October 15, 2008)