Tue, Dec 28, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Taiwanese fishing boats beached in Phuket


Thirty-five Taiwanese fishing boats were beached on the Thai resort island of Phuket by the tsunamis unleashed by a powerful earthquake off the Indonesian island of Sumatra on Sunday, the Council of Agriculture said yesterday.

There were about 60 Taiwanese crew members and 120 to 200 workers of other nationalities aboard the vessels, but no major casualties were reported, fishery officials said, adding that only a few on board sustained minor injuries.

Council officials said about 150 Taiwanese fishing boats usually operate in the areas that were swamped by the tidal waves. They usually call at ports in Phuket, Penang in Malaysia, Colombo in Sri Lanka and Bali in Indonesia.

Because of inconvenient communications in those regions, the officials said, they could only get information through Taiwan's representative offices in those countries and local agents of the fishing companies.

The officials said that to their knowledge the boats operating in waters off Colombo, Bali and Penang had not been affected by the devastating tsunamis. Only 35 Taiwanese fishing boats operating in the waters around Phuket were beached and some fishing gear damaged. Several of the ships have already resumed operations after minor repairs, the officials said, adding that property and catch losses had not yet been calculated.

The officials said they will keep in contact with the boats operating in those areas through local radio stations.

A Taipei City official said a relief team will take 3 tonnes of relief goods, including food, tents and medicine, to help survivors.

A 35-member team organized by Taiwan's post-disaster relief association will leave for Phuket today for search operations.

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