- The visibility was said to be 500 meters, with massive waves and 144km/h winds
- Air disruptions caused at least three flights heading for Hong Kong to be diverted to Taiwan
- Improper distribution of goods stated as the cause of the accident by Captain
An industrial support ship in the South China Sea with 30 members on board has sunk in a storm and split into two with the status of more than two dozen crew members unknown, Hong Kong emergency services have said.
Hong Kong Government Flying Service dispatched planes and helicopters to rescue the members of the ship, with at least three people from the crew of 30 rescued as of 5:30 p.m. local time (5:30 a.m. ET) Saturday, Associated Press reported.
The three rescued seafarers told South China Morning Post that their fellow crewmates could have been washed away from the wrecked and damaged ship. Hong Kong emergency services announced Saturday afternoon that it would widen its search with two more flying rescue missions before sunset and subject it to an extension until the night if the circumstances demand it and the weather permits them to carry on.
Authorities shared photographs from the rescue effort, which appear to show a crew member being carried aboard a rescue-chopper as mighty waves slammed the vessel, which had split in two.
The operation, which was conducted on the mainland China-registered engineering vessel "Fujing001," commenced with the No. 8 typhoon warning signal in effect. The flying services had been alerted earlier about the sinking ship by Hong Kong Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre at 7.25 am following which a fixed-wing aircraft and two rescue helicopters bolted to the coordinates, according to The Guardian. Two other helicopters also rushed to the scene, 186 miles southwest of the city.
The ship, which has not been named, got trapped in a violent tropical storm, Typhoon Chaba, with high pressures of wind to 10km/h (68mph). The ship fell into grave danger when its crew attempted to navigate their way out of bad weather, The Independent reported.
Captain Cheung Sighting, chairman of the Hong Kong Seamen’s Union, told South China Morning Post that an uneven distribution of goods on the vessel could have led to the accident amidst the unruly sea and typhoon. “I suspect goods on the vessel may have been placed unevenly. It was then threatened by the waves and broke into two,” Cheung said.
Many other Hong Kong city attractions were also impacted by Typhoon Chaba, including the Hong Kong Wetland Park and Ngong Ping 360, which ceased its cable car services.