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Another Filipino seaman in accident

MANILA, Philippines–The year has not started well for Filipino seamen.

Two Filipino seafarers died and 16 others were missing after their cargo ship sank in waters near Vietnam on Friday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reported on Sunday.

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The Norwegian cargo vessel Bulk Jupiter went down off the coast of Vung Tau City with a 19-man Filipino crew.

So far, the DFA said, only one member of the crew has been rescued alive.

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Charles-Jose

Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman and Assistant Secretary Charles Jose. AFP FILE PHOTO

The DFA did not say why the ship sank.

Vietnamese authorities are leading the rescue operations and have recovered two bodies, the DFA said, quoting a report from the Philippine Embassy in Hanoi.

DFA spokesman Charles Jose said there was no word yet about the fate of another Filipino sailor aboard a Cyprus-flagged cargo vessel that capsized in waters off the northeast tip of Britain.

The cargo ship was carrying cement from Denmark to Cheshire in the United Kingdom.

Search still on

“Search and rescue operations are still ongoing and the embassy is monitoring developments,” Jose said.

Reports said the Cypriot-registered vessel Cemfjord had a crew of eight and the upturned hull of cargo vessel was spotted by passing ships on Saturday.

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Lifeboats, helicopters and other vessels were involved in the search for survivors.

In a text message to reporters, Jose said a search was going on for the other 16 crew members off Vietnam.

Aiding the search were vessels from Liberia, Oman, Singapore and China, he said.

“We understand that the manning agency has been communicating with the families of the crew members and with the Department of Labor and Employment and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration,” Jose said.

The chief cook

He said the Philippine Embassy in Hanoi was coordinating with the Vietnam Maritime Search and Rescue Coordinating Center and the Philippine honorary consul general in Ho Chi Minh City for information and arrangements for the repatriation of the rescued sailor and the recovered bodies.

The lone survivor was the chief cook on the ship, but he was refusing to cooperate with rescuers, making the search more difficult, a Vietnamese rescue official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he had no authority to talk to journalists.

The man refused to say what happened to the ship, the official said. It wasn’t clear why he wasn’t talking.

The ship owner, Bergen-based Gearbulk, said the 56,000-ton vessel was 287 kilometers off Vietnam with a cargo of bauxite when it sent a distress signal that was picked up by the Japan Coast Guard.

This was in order to “gather updates and making arrangements for the repatriation of the rescued seafarer and the retrieved remains,” he said.

Another Filipino missing

Brise of Hamburg, managers of the cement carrier, confirmed in a statement that the crew of eight were missing “following a severe accident.”

“No distress call was received from the vessel. Bad weather prevailed in the area at the time and conditions remain difficult at the scene, with storm force winds,” Brise said.

“The crew consists of seven Polish seafarers and one Filipino mariner. The company is in the process of informing the families,” it said.

‘Very, very strange’

Bill Farquhar, from the local lifeboat station, confirmed to the British Broadcasting Corp. that the weather had been bad but there was no mayday call.

“It is very, very strange, especially with all the weather technology we have nowadays,” he said.

“Whatever happened, it happened very rapidly,” he added.

Built in 1984, the 83-meter vessel successfully completed classification renewal inspections in December, Brise said.

The vessel was carrying a cargo of 2,000 tons of cement from Aalborg in Denmark to Runcorn near Liverpool on the northwestern English coast, right round the top of Britain.

It was due to arrive on Monday.–With reports from AP and AFP

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TAGS: Filipino seamen, sea accident, seamen, Vietnam
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