The wife of the captain of an Yilan County-based fishing vessel that has been out of contact for nine days in waters near the Midway Atoll yesterday urged President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to ask the US to help rescue the ship’s crew.
Accompanied by her two sons, the woman, surnamed Lin (林), arrived at a fishers’ association in the county’s Suao Township (蘇澳) asking for Tsai’s help, saying that one word from the president held more weight than anything that they could say.
As of Saturday last week, there were faint signals transmitted over the Yong Yu Sing No. 18’s vessel monitoring system (VMS), Fisheries Agency Deputy Director-General Wang Cheng-fang (王正芳) told a news conference in Taipei yesterday.
Photo: Chiang Chih-hsiung, Taipei Times
However, the last signals received placed the vessel 606 nautical miles (1,122km) northeast of the Midway Atoll, Wang said, explaining the progress of the search-and-rescue efforts.
On Wednesday last week, the agency notified the ship’s owner that the vessel’s VMS was abnormal, but the owner was unable to reach the captain, surnamed Lee (李), Wang added.
The Taipei Rescue Coordination Center and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have been brought in to request US assistance in locating the ship, he said.
Based on information passed on to the agency by the US Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC) in Honolulu, Hawaii, the ship was discovered on Saturday adrift northeast of the Midway Atoll, Wang said, adding that the JRCC updated the ship’s position on Wednesday.
The agency coordinated with four nearby ships to visit the last known coordinates of the unresponsive ship, Wang said.
One ship, the Yi Jung 18, arrived at the coordinates late on Wednesday night, but had to move away due to bad weather and tall waves, he added.
“We are still coordinating with the US to help search for the ship, as it could have drifted away from its last known coordinates,” Wang said.
Aerial photographs taken by US aircraft showed no crew members on deck, but it is possible that the images were not taken when there was deck activity, he said.
All government agencies — including diplomatic, fisheries and rescue units — are doing their utmost to assist in search-and-rescue efforts, Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang (張惇涵) said later yesterday, adding that the government would assist Lee’s family however it can.
Tsai has instructed Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋) to call Lee’s family to express her concern to them, he added.
The foreign ministry said in a statement that the JRCC has over the past few days dispatched fixed-wing aircraft 18 times to help locate the ship.
The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Honolulu has asked the US Coast Guard to send ships to help with search-and-rescue efforts, the ministry said.
The JRCC said in a statement forwarded by TECO that it could not approach the vessel due to bad weather, but would not stop efforts, including trying to reach the ship.
The ministry said that it instructed TECO to keep close contact with its US peers and to assist Taiwanese groups with the search-and-rescue efforts.
Additional reporting by Yang Chun-hui
VIGILANCE: While two of the cases are family members of a nurse, there is no sign of community spread and the source of infection is identifiable, the CECC said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported four new domestic COVID-19 cases associated with a cluster infection at a Taoyuan hospital. Since the first case was identified on Tuesday last week, five healthcare workers — two doctors and three nurses — at the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Taoyuan General Hospital have tested positive for the virus. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that two of the four new cases are the husband and daughter of a nurse (case No. 863) who had earlier been confirmed to have COVID-19. The husband (case No. 864)
INCURSION: After 13 PLA aircraft flew into Taiwan’s ADIZ, the US Department of State said that China should rather ‘engage in meaningful dialogue’ with Taiwan US President Joe Biden’s administration on Saturday urged China to stop placing military pressure on Taiwan, while calling on both sides of the Taiwan Strait to engage in peaceful dialogue. The statement by the US Department of State was issued after 13 Chinese military aircraft flew into Taiwan’s southwest air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on Saturday, the highest number observed in a single day this year, the Ministry of National Defense said. The air force scrambled fighter jets to monitor the Chinese aircraft, issuing radio warnings and mobilizing air defense assets until the planes left the ADIZ. The US “notes
CHANGE OF GUARD: Hsiao Bi-khim’s attendance at Joe Biden’s inauguration will come as a boost to those in Taiwan who feared that the new US administration would be less friendly than that of Donald Trump to the nation Representative to the US Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) is to attend US President Joe Biden’s swearing-in ceremony at the US Capitol after she was invited by the US Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, a news release issued by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in the US said last night. The news came as a surprise as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had been reticent about the matter, while Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) members had accused the Democratic Progressive Party administration of hedging its bets on the Republican Party. Asked about when Hsiao received the invitation, the ministry did not
FAMILY UNIT: The CECC warned that the eldest sister of the latest case, who also has COVID-19, visited Taoyuan’s Chungping evening market on Tuesday and Wednesday The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported a domestic case of COVID-19, associated with a recent cluster infection at Taoyuan General Hospital, and two imported cases. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that the latest case (No. 885) is a woman in her 50s, who is the third daughter of case No. 881, a man in his 90s. The woman is the main caregiver of her elderly father, who had been hospitalized earlier this month and was treated by a nurse (case No. 852) from Monday to Thursday last week, he said, adding that