3 of 4 crew of sunken fishing boat rescued after 36 hours adrift on makeshift raft

Three crew members who abandoned their sinking fishing vessel Wednesday night, May 5, were found adrift on a makeshift raft this morning, Friday, May 7.

The captain of the Pingtung County based Yushunsheng No. 168 sent a distress call at around 11:00 pm Wednesday, saying that the boat was sinking after hitting rocks on a reef off Cape Eluanbi, the crew then abandoned ship.

A search and rescue operation ensued after a Coast Guard cruiser sent to the location was unable to find the stricken vessel or any signs of the crew.

The crew of another fishing boat located the partially sunken Yushunsheng No. 168 at around 6:20 pm, yesterday, May 6. However, only the bow of the vessel protruded from the water, and the crew was missing.

A man sits in a makeshift raft about to be rescued

Three of the missing crew were spotted on a makeshift raft by the transport ship “Green Island Star 3” bound for Houbihu, Pingtung County from Orchid Island. The captain of the Green Island Star 3, Hsu Ching-ping, said that he did not know that a fishing vessel had hit a reef and sunk, and it just happened that he spotted an orange object around one nautical mile away at around 10:30 am. Since it was unusual to spot such a large object floating in the area, he decided to take a closer look. On approaching the object he saw the crew members waving for help.

The crew of the Green Island Star 3 threw ropes to the men, and hauled the raft alongside before helping them clamber aboard.

The surviving crew of the Yushunsheng No. 168 consisted of the 52-year-old Captain, named Chen, his 23-year-old son, and a 33-year-old Indonesian national. A 48-year-old Taiwanese crew member, also named Chen, but unrelated to the captain, is still missing.

Rescued crew members drink water after being pulled aboard.
“Water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink.” The rescued men have their first drink of water after drifting for two nights and one full day on a makeshift raft.

Captain Chen said the the missing crew member had become confused, speaking incoherently, and had drifted away from the makeshift raft, composed of floating Styrofoam and rope netting. Captain Chen’s son said that the four people had been cheering each other up, but brother Chen floated away. They threw a float ball to him, and he caught it, but then slowly disappeared, believed to have succumb to exhaustion.

Chen also said that they had found a pack of instant noodles floating, and had shared it as their only food in the last 36 hours.

The men had also spotted a helicopter, and waved, but the helicopter crew did not see them.

After reaching the port at Houbihu, the men were sent to three different local hospitals for treatment. None of the rescued crew suffered any major medical problems, according to reports.

Captain Chen is placed on a stretcher after being brought to shore.
Captain Chen said that his ship had lost power and drifted onto rocks at Qishing (Seven Star) Reef.
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