Crew abandons ship after Panamanian freighter runs aground in Penghu Islands

The 14-man crew of a Panamanian-registered cargo ship was airlifted to safety after the vessel ran aground in Penghu County following a mechanical failure, Sunday, October 17.

Taiwan’s Coast Guard Administration Magong Signal Station received a distress call from the crew of the Xinyan Fortune at 9:25 am, reporting that the ship had lost power and was adrift around 7 nautical miles northeast of Jibei Island.

The coast guard dispatched three patrol boats and a fixed winged aircraft to the ship’s position, but strong winds forced them all to turn back.

Xinyan Fortune freighter adrift in the Taiwan Strait
Xinyan Fortune adrift in the Taiwan Strait. Picture: CGA.

The crew of the freighter attempted to anchor the ship, but strong wind and swells prevented the ship from remaining in a fixed position, and it continued to drift until it ran aground on the northern shoal of Jibei Island at around 3:00 pm.

The Coast Guard dispatched a helicopter to rescue the crew in two batches at 3:59 pm and 4:17 pm. The crew members were flown to Penghu Airport, then sent to a local hospital for PCR testing for coronavirus.

freighter aground on Jibei Island
Freighter aground on Jibei Island, Penghu County, October 17, 2021.

The Xinyan Fortune had departed from Fuzhou, Fujian Province, China, and was traversing the Taiwan Strait at the time of the mechanical failure. The area was under the influence of a northeast monsoonal front, generating high winds and rough seas.

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