A stone vessel sinks in the South China Sea
A stone ship sank in the southern part of the South East Asian maritime border on Tuesday (Wednesday NZT) with authorities warning that more could follow.
About 50 tonnes of debris sank in a small river off the coast of Wuhan in the Hainan province, a state government official said, adding it was not yet known how many of the 30-metre-long, six-metres-long hulls were sunk.
The incident took place at about 6:30pm local time, the official said.
The official gave no further details on the size of the damage or how many people were in the boat.
The Hainans provincial government has urged residents to avoid the river and seek medical help.
It was not immediately clear if any of the injured had died.
“The damage was very heavy,” the official told the South Chinese newspaper Xinhua, adding that officials were looking into whether more vessels had sunk.
It was not clear if there were any casualties among the crew, who were trapped in the water.
The Chinese foreign ministry said it was deeply concerned and would ask Beijing to ensure the safety of Chinese citizens and citizens of other countries in the region.
“Our main concern is to prevent further deterioration of the situation and to protect Chinese citizens’ safety,” ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in Beijing on Tuesday.
China has been conducting naval exercises in the Spratly archipelago, which it has occupied since 2012.
It has also been engaged in a war of words with its rival South Korea, which has deployed advanced anti-ship missiles in the area.
China said last month it had sunk a South Korean patrol vessel that it accused of violating Chinese waters.
China also has a maritime border dispute with Japan over islands it claims in the East China Sea.
It is also embroiled in a dispute with Vietnam over the Sprats’ airspace, where Beijing maintains a naval base.