Sri Lanka Navy recovers 14 bodies from capsized Chinese boat

The Sri Lankan navy said on Wednesday that it has recovered 14 bodies from a Chinese fishing boat that capsized last week with 39 crew members on board.

The gruesome discovery came a day after the Chinese government’s initial investigation concluded that there were no survivors aboard the ship that capsized on May 16.

Lu Peng Yuan Yu 028 was carrying 17 Chinese, 17 Indonesians and five Filipinos, and was 5,000 kilometers west of Perth within Australia’s vast search and rescue area.

The Philippine Foreign Ministry said the boat was located about 1,000 kilometers south of Sri Lanka on May 18, but bad weather hampered rescue efforts.

The Sri Lankan navy said its submarine crew recovered two bodies and found 12 more on Tuesday, releasing photos showing the ship’s red hull and bodies being pulled from the water.

„Due to the decomposition and health hazards associated with operating in contaminated water with limited protective equipment, it was determined that the recovery of the bodies was too risky,” the Navy said in a statement.

It said the locations of the 12 bodies inside the boat had been mapped and handed over to Chinese authorities. The nationalities of the bodies found were not immediately known.

The Sri Lankan Navy’s statement comes a day after a preliminary investigation by China’s Ministry of Transport concluded that all on board were dead.

Australia has sent three aircraft and four ships to assist international search and rescue efforts.

Rescuers have covered an area of ​​about 64,000 square kilometers and found no sign of survivors, according to China’s Ministry of Transport.

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The fishing vessel’s distress beacon was first spotted last week when Cyclone Fabian whipped up waves seven meters high and winds of up to 120 kilometers per hour.

Rough weather hampered rescue efforts, with the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Canberra warning of 'challenging’ survival conditions.

The vessel is owned by Penglai Jinglu Fishing Company, one of China’s major state-owned fishing companies.

According to the North Pacific Fisheries Commission, it is authorized to catch neon flying squid and Pacific saury.

It left Cape Town, South Africa, for Busan, South Korea on May 5, according to the Marine Traffic Watch website, which last spotted the vessel on May 10 southeast of Reunion, a small French island in the Indian Ocean.

Penglai Jinglu Fishery conducts squid and tuna fishing operations in international waters, including the waters around the Indian Ocean and Latin America.

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