Eleven crewmembers were rescued yesterday from a Taiwanese fishing boat that caught fire near Mauritius in the Indian Ocean on Sunday, but the search continues for two missing fishermen, a Fisheries Agency official said yesterday.
As of noon yesterday — two days after the boat caught fire and apparently sank — Huang Pao-jung (黃保榮), the Taiwanese skipper of the Ruei Yi Hsiang No. 11, and a crewmember had not been found, Fisheries Agency Deputy Director-General Tsay Tzu-yaw (蔡日耀) said.
The fire occurred in an area far from where pirates usually operate and there is no evidence that it was caused by external factors, Tsay said.
The 11 crewmen were picked up by three fishing boats belonging to the same company that owned the ill-fated Ruei Yi Hsiang No. 11, which was carrying 12 Philippine fishermen and Huang, Tsay said.
The Mauritian government has sent a helicopter to help search for the missing men in the hope of maximizing the 72-hour “golden” timeframe for search-and-rescue operations, Donggang Fishermen’s Association chief executive Lin Han-chou (林漢丑) said.
The Fisheries Agency has dispatched a specialist to Mauritius to help deal with the matter, he added.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but may have resulted from an overheated engine, according to a local radio station in Donggang Township (東港鄉), Pingtung County, where the boat is registered.
The 80-tonne tuna fishing boat left Taiwan in April 2010 to fish in the Indian Ocean and had been operating from a fishing base in Mauritius, the radio station said.