By John Liu ,The China Post
TAIPEI, Taiwan — A maritime accident occurred last night, as the Taiwan Ocean Research Institute vessel Ocean Researcher V sank in waters southeast of Penghu, with 8 crew members still missing as of press time. With 45 people onboard, the ship reportedly hit a reef and lost engine power after water began flowing into the ship’s cabin. As the ship gradually submerged, crew members reportedly began jumping into the sea. After being notified of the accident the Coast Guard, Navy and Air Force dispatched dozens of frigates to the scene to perform rescue work. However, with bad weather and rough waves, the ships reportedly had difficulty navigating near the floundering vessel.
As of press time, 37 crew members had been rescued, while 8 others are still missing. One of the rescued crew suffered a bone fracture.
The purpose of the expedition was to conduct a study on pollution particles in the atmosphere. It was a research project endorsed by the Executive Yuan and carried out by a number of universities and organizations, including National Taiwan Ocean University, Academia Sinica, National Yang-Ming University and National Cheng Kung University. The Taiwan-made Ocean Researcher V was 72.6 meters long and 15.4 meters wide, and could sail for 50 days. Under the original plan, the expedition was to run from Oct. 9 to Oct. 16, but was forced back due to bad weather. After being notified of the incident, the Coast Guard Administration dispatched three vessels and contacted the National Airborne Service Corps, National Science and Technology Center for Disaster Reduction, and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications for support. The Air Force also dispatched two EC225 and S-70C helicopters, as well as a C-130 transport aircraft to drop aerial flares. The Navy also dispatched several frigates to the scene.