| Staff members work at the Hainan Maritime Search and Rescue Center in Haikou, capital of south China's Hainan Province, Sept. 30, 2013. A total of 74 people are confirmed missing after three fishing boats sank Sunday afternoon in a typhoon in the South China Sea, maritime authorities said on Monday. (Xinhua/Zhao Yingquan)
HAIKOU, Sept. 30 (Xinhua) -- A total of 74 people have been confirmed missing after three fishing boats have sunk since Sunday afternoon in a typhoon in South China Sea, maritime authorities said on Monday.
The boats, all from south China's Guangdong Province with 88 fishermen aboard, were lost on Sunday afternoon as they attempted to navigate gales near the Xisha Islands, about 330 km from China's island province of Hainan, sources with the Hainan maritime search and rescue center said.
As of Monday noon, rescuers had retrieved 14 survivors, the sources said.
Altogether five fishing boats with a total of 171 people aboard were caught by Typhoon Wutip, the 21st of the season, the sources said.
Fishermen underestimating the impact of the typhoon contributed to the accident, according to sources with the government of Sansha City.
The fishermen had already received typhoon warnings but did not go ashore. They just laid their ships in a lagoon south of Shanhu Island to avoid gales but the typhoon overturned their boats.
An aircraft was sent by the Ministry of Transport at 10:39 a.m. for the rescue operation.
Meanwhile, the government of Sansha City had mobilized 350 local island residents and soldiers as well as nearby ships to participate in the search and rescue efforts.
The Hainan provincial government has dispatched six planes and 10 ships to the site of the accident. Three planes and two ships arrived at the scene by Monday noon.
The rescue operations had been hampered by strong gales and high waves on the sea, according to the Hainan maritime search and rescue center.
As of Monday noon, 52 ships had been sheltered in waters close to the islands of Chenhang and Shanhu. Affected fishermen were taken care of by soldiers stationed at Xisha Islands.
China's maritime authority on Sunday upgraded its wave warning from yellow to orange, the second-highest of a four-tier color-coded weather warning system, as the typhoon approached land.
The National Marine Environmental Forecasting Center warned of storm tides from Sunday to Monday in Guangdong, Hainan and Guangxi.
Wutip is expected to make landfall on Vietnam's central coast on Tuesday.
President Xi urges all-out rescue effort
BEIJING, Sept. 30 (Xinhua) -- President Xi Jinping has demanded an all-out rescue effort after Typhoon Wutip sank fishing boats near the Xisha Islands on Sunday night, leaving 74 people missing.
In a special instruction given after the incident, Xi urged local authorities to do their utmost to find the missing or stranded and minimize casualties. Full story
China upgrades alert against typhoon Wutip
BEIJING, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- China's maritime authority on Sunday upgraded its wave warning from yellow to orange as Typhoon Wutip, the 21st of the season, approached land.
The central South China Sea is experiencing rough seas under Wutip's influence, according to the National Marine Environmental Forecasting Center. Full story
China on yellow alert as Typhoon Wutip nears
BEIJING, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) -- China's maritime authority on Saturday issued a yellow wave warning as Typhoon Wutip, the 21st of the season, approaches land.
According to the National Marine Environmental Forecasting Center, Wutip is expected to make landfall on Vietnam's central coast on Oct. 1. Full story