A Philippine crew member who allegedly killed and attacked crewmates aboard a Taiwanese fishing vessel in the Indian Ocean last month has been arrested by the coast guard, but six foreign crew members are still missing, the Fisheries Agency said yesterday.
The 255-tonne Wen Peng had 24 crew members onboard — three Taiwanese, 10 Filipinos and 11 Indonesians — when a conflict broke out on Feb. 20 as the vessel sailed about 900 nautical miles (1,665km) off the south coast of Sri Lanka, the agency said.
The boat’s chief officer allegedly killed one Filipino and one Indonesian, and ordered some of their crewmates to jump into the water, it said.
Photo courtesy of the Coast Guard Administration
As of Feb. 22, the Taiwanese — the captain, the chief engineer and an observer for the agency — as well as 12 other crew members had been rescued by Taiwanese vessels Shang Feng No. 3 and Hung Fu No. 88, with the latter asked to help monitor the Wen Peng with the suspect onboard until the coast guard arrived, it said.
Eight officials from the agency and the Coast Guard Administration on Feb. 23 flew to Sri Lanka and boarded another Taiwanese vessel, the Chao Feng No. 277, which reached the area at 8:30am on Saturday, it said.
Coast guard personnel spent about 13 hours negotiating with the suspect, as the Wen Peng’s cabin door was locked from inside and the boat’s rails were electrified, the coast guard said.
At 9:20pm, the suspect surrendered, jumping overboard and swimming to the Chao Feng, where he was arrested, it said.
Coast guard patrol boat Hsun Hu No. 8, which departed from Kaohsiung on Feb. 21, yesterday met with Chao Feng No. 277 and Hung Fu No. 88 at 6:20pm and took over the suspect, the coast guard said.
Six crew members — one Filipino and five Indonesians — who were reportedly forced to jump into the sea have been missing for a long time, Fisheries Agency Deputy Director-General Lin Kuo-ping (林國平) said, adding that rescue operations might be called off, as 72 hours have passed since they went missing.
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