Tue, Sep 27, 2005 - Page 5 News List

Chinese capture Vietnamese vessel

AP , BEIJING

Chinese maritime police have captured a Vietnamese cargo vessel that rammed and sank a Chinese fishing boat off the northern Vietnamese coast, then failed to help rescue its crew, Chinese media said yesterday.

The official Xinhua news agency said the Vietnamese vessel tried to escape after it hit the Chinese boat last Thursday night, but was halted and detained by maritime police deployed from the Hainan island. All eight Chinese fishermen aboard the stricken boat were rescued by a sister Chinese fishing vessel, the agency said.

There was no word on whether the Vietnamese cargo ship had been brought to a Chinese port, but Chinese authorities ordered all Chinese vessels in the area to find safe harbor last Thursday, ahead of Typhoon Damrey, which made landfall on Hainan early yesterday.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry had no comment. Xinhua said the Chinese fishing boat was operating in the Gulf of Tonkin off the northern coast of Vietnam when the collision occurred. It said the Vietnamese vessel was carrying 726 tonnes of coal and had a crew of 11.

Thursday's incident is the first publicized clash involving Vietnamese and Chinese vessels since Jan. 8, when Chinese maritime police shot and killed an unspecified number of Vietnamese who China said were preying on a string of Chinese fishing vessels in the Gulf of Tonkin.

Two weeks earlier Chinese authorities detained 80 Vietnamese fishermen and seized nine of their boats after they were allegedly found fishing without permits in Chinese waters.

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