BUENOS AIRES – The 30 people aboard a Chinese fishing trawler that sank Friday after a collision with another boat in international waters off the coast of Argentina were rescued by a passing ship, an Argentine official told EFE.
The accident involved the Zhong Yuan Yu 11 and another fishing vessel, the Pesca Vaqueiro, which operates out of the northern Spanish port of Vigo.
The vessels collided at a spot 9 nautical miles (16km) outside Argentina’s exclusive economic zone at roughly the same latitude as the port of Comodoro Rivadavia in the southern province in Chubut.
Accounts from other ships in the area indicate that the damage suffered by the Pesca Vaqueiro was “insignificant” and did not hinder the vessel’s operation, Sergio Cernadas, an official with Argentina’s Maritime Control Center, said.
He emphasized that the center was basing that conclusion on second-hand information, as it had been unable to establish radio contact with the Pesca Vaqueiro.
The Argentine coast guard has dispatched a boat, the GC-24 Mantilla, to the scene and an aircraft is in the skies above the area, Cernadas said.
“We don’t know the causes,” he said, adding that the investigation was in the initial phase.
The collision occurred around 2.00 am in an area where more than 230 fishing vessels operate, Cernadas said.
The crew of the Zhong Yuan Yu 11 were rescued by another Chinese-flagged vessel and the Maritime Control Center has received no reports of deaths or missing persons following the shipwreck, Cernadas said.
As many as 250 fishing boats were in the area at the time of the accident.
The spot is favored by mainly Chinese, Spanish, and Korean-flagged vessels fishing for squid.
The trawlers that ply those waters usually make their local base in Montevideo and because the area is outside of the Argentine economic zone, incidents there do not come under the jurisdiction of Buenos Aires.
Argentine authorities will issue their own report based on the findings of the coast guard, Cernadas said.
Preliminary reports indicate that the Zhong Yuan Yu 11 activated a distress/locator beacon which the Argentine navy detected.