More than two dozen crew members are missing after their ship broke in two during a typhoon in the South China Sea on Saturday, with rescuers rushing to find them, officials said.
An engineering vessel that was 160 nautical miles southwest of Hong Kong “sustained significant damage and broke in two” and all 30 crew members abandoned ship, according to the Hong Kong Government Flying Service.
Three people were rescued at 3 p.m. local time (0700 GMT) and taken to hospital for treatment, authorities said.
Dramatic footage provided by Hong Kong authorities showed a person being airlifted on a helicopter as waves crashed onto the deck of the semi-submerged vessel below.
The three survivors said other crew members may have been swept away by the waves before the first helicopter arrived, according to a government statement.
Typhoon Chaba formed earlier in the central part of the South China Sea and hit southern China’s Guangdong Province on Saturday afternoon.
Hong Kong rescuers were notified of the incident at 07:25 local time (2325 GMT Friday) and found the vessel near the center of Chaba, where harsh weather conditions and nearby wind farms made the operation “more difficult and dangerous”.
The ship’s location recorded wind speeds of 144 kilometers per hour and waves 10 meters high, authorities said.
The Government Flying Service conducted two fixed-wing aircraft sorties and four helicopter sorties, with mainland Chinese authorities also dispatching a rescue boat.
Rescuers said they would widen the search area “due to the large number of missing people” and extend the operation into the night if conditions allowed.
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