China says 12 bodies found after typhoon shipwreck off Hong Kong

An engineering vessel had suffered substantial damage and broke into two pieces during a typhoon last week.

Chinese ship sinking due to typhoon
A ship broken into two amid Typhoon Chaba in the South China Sea [Handout via Hong Kong Government Flying Service/AFP]

Twelve bodies have been found following a shipwreck in the South China Sea over the weekend that left the crew of 30 missing, according to Chinese authorities.

The announcement on Monday came days after an engineering vessel some 160 nautical miles (296km) southwest of Hong Kong suffered substantial damage and broke into two pieces during a typhoon.

“As of 3:30pm on July 4, rescue forces found and recovered 12 bodies, suspected to be of victims who drowned, in an area approximately 50 nautical miles southwest of the site where the vessel sank,” the Guangdong Maritime Search and Rescue Centre said in a notice on Monday.

“The relevant departments are stepping up identity confirmation work,” it added.

Four rescued

Three people had been rescued on Saturday and one more in the early hours of Monday, according to Chinese state media, leaving 26 more people still unaccounted for.

Seven planes, 246 boats and 498 fishing vessels have been dispatched to search for the remaining missing people, authorities said.

Dramatic footage provided by Hong Kong authorities earlier showed a person being airlifted onto a helicopter while waves crashed over the deck of the semi-submerged ship below.

Typhoon Chaba formed in the central part of the South China Sea and on Saturday afternoon made landfall in southern China’s Guangdong province.

Rescuers in Hong Kong were notified of the incident at 7:25am local time (23:25 GMT on Friday) and found the ship near Chaba’s centre, where harsh weather conditions and nearby wind farms made the operation “more difficult and dangerous”.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies