Two dead, two missing after cargo ship capsizes off southern Vietnam

Xin Hong (Photo: Tonic)

Authorities in Vietnam have confirmed the deaths of two people and the disappearance of two others in the wake of an incident wherein a Chinese-owned cargo vessel capsized and sank off the southern coast of the country late last week.

Local authorities said the Panamanian-flagged Xin Hong was sailing from Malaysia to Taiwan with 15 crew and a cargo of clay totaling 7,800 tonnes when it ran into bad weather approximately 96 kilometres off the coast on the afternoon (local time) of Thursday, December 17.

At around 17:00 on Thursday, Xin Hong‘s crew sent out a distress call saying that their vessel had capsized after listing heavily to starboard in an area with wind gusts of up to 40 knots and five-metre-high waves.

Vietnam Coast Guard boat crews later arrived on the scene and began conducting search and rescue (SAR) operations that lasted well into the following morning, by which time the cargo ship had already sunk.

The SAR operations led to the rescue of 11 crewmembers by 02:00 on Friday, December 18. However, two crewmen have been found dead while another two sailors have been reported as missing.

Investigators believe the bad weather in the area had caused Xin Hong‘s cargo to shift while in transit, which then led to the capsizing.

Local authorities have meanwhile requested Xin Hong‘s owners, Hong He Shipping, to draft plans for responding to possible oil spills from the ship and for its potential salvage.

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