BEIJING: More than 70 people were missing after three Chinese boats sank in a powerful typhoon in the South China Sea, state media said on Monday, as Vietnam undertook mass evacuations.
So far 74 people have been confirmed missing as “three fishing boats have sunk since Sunday afternoon,” China’s official Xinhua news agency reported, citing maritime authorities.
They were caught in rough waters whipped up by Typhoon Wutip, which is expected to make landfall in Vietnam’s central region later on Monday.
The boats—which were to-gether carrying 88 fishermen—sank after they attempted to navigate gales near the Paracel Islands, about 330 kilometers from China’s southern coast.
Altogether, five boats carrying 171 people were caught in the stormy seas.
As of Monday around noon, rescuers had retrieved 14 survivors. A large-scale search and rescue effort has been mounted to find others, said Hainan Net, a website run by the government of China’s southernmost province.
Ten ships, including three navy warships and six aircraft have been deployed for the rescue, the report said.
China’s President Xi Jinping called for an “all-out rescue effort, urging local authorities to “do their utmost to find the missing or stranded and minimize casualties,” Xinhua said.
But it added that rescue efforts have been hampered by strong gales and high waves.
The boats had come from the southern province of Guangdong.
China’s maritime authority on Sunday raised its alert on the typhoon to orange, its second-highest of four levels, Xinhua reported.