Eleven Vietnam sailors missing after ship sinks: official

Twelve other mariners were rescued by fishermen after the Van Don-2 sank yesterday about 400 kms off the coast of Ba Ria-Vung Tau, said Bui Ngoc Tri, of the southern province's search and rescue centre.

"We have sent two rescue boats and asked fishing vessels in the area to help in the search for the missing sailors," Tri said.

"However, our search is hampered by bad weather."

Tri said the accident happened very quickly during heavy seas, and he did not know if the crew had time to put on their life jackets.

"We are making maximum efforts to search for them and I can't talk about their chances of survival. That depends a lot on the energy of each one of them, and on the weather conditions."

The ship, weighing 6,900 deadweight tonnes, was transporting material for making iron from Malaysia to Ho Chi Minh City, Tri said. It belongs to the Quang Ninh Sea Transport company based in northern Quang Ninh province.

A staffer at the shipping company said only that they were waiting further information from the rescue centre.

Twenty other fishermen were missing and presumed dead after their vessel overturned on December 17, also during strong winds off Ba Ria-Vung Tau province. Only one man survived, a rescue official said.

Local media reported that another 23 seamen have not been found after the Phu Tan container ship from Vietnam sank on December 16 during severe weather further north, to the west of China's Hainan island.

Officials said rescue workers from China and Vietnam found three survivors and one body from the cargo ship.

Strong winds and heavy seas are common off Vietnam's coast at this time of year.

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