An injured fisherman receives treatment at Sansha municipal people's hospital in Sansha City, south China's Hainan Province, Sept. 30, 2013. A total of 74 people were confirmed missing while another 14 were rescued after three fishing boats sank Sunday afternoon during a typhoon in the South China Sea, China's maritime authorities said on Monday. (Xinhua/Wei Taoze)
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.
Four injured fishermen taking refuge at Chenhang Island were sent to Sansha municipal people's hospital for treatment via a helicopter on Monday afternoon.
Altogether five fishing boats with a total of 171 people aboard were caught by Typhoon Wutip, the 21st of the season, the sources said.
Four ships were confirmed to be from Taishan City, under the administration of Jiangmen City, in Guangdong Province. The other one was from Hong Kong, according to the Jiangmen municipal government and the Hainan maritime search and rescue center.
Two ships, Yuetaiyu 62116 and 62150, sank at about 7:20 p.m on Sunday, according to a statement from the Jiangmen municipal government.
The third one, Yuetaiyu 62108, sank at 9:20 a.m. on Monday. One fisherman on board the ship swam to Yagong Island and reported the accident. The other 27 aboard the ship are still missing, according to a Guangdong provincial emergency response office statement on Monday afternoon.
The fourth one, Yuetaiyu 61008 had lost power but was working again at 11:30 a.m. on Monday and is heading to the scene of the accident for rescue, according to the statement.
Fishermen on the Hong Kong ship were safe, according to the Hainan maritime search and rescue center.
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 since Friday 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.