China wants search efforts stepped up as ‘bodies are found’ after boat capsizes

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China has asked Australian authorities to step up efforts to find survivors from a capsized Chinese fishing boat which left 39 crew members missing in the Indian Ocean.

Two bodies have been recovered, Chinese media has reported.

“We wish that they could send more — more aircraft, more ships and more staff,” ambassador to Australia Xiao Qian said.

“We wish that our Australian colleagues would co-ordinate with other international or foreign vessels or ships near that area … to help the search and rescue to save as many lives as possible.”

Mr Xiao said China wants to co-ordinate with “friendly countries”, including Australia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, in the search and rescue effort.

A Sri Lankan navy ship was also heading for the scene, the authority said in a statement.

Two days after the capsize of the Lu Peng Yuan Yu 028, the authority “remains hopeful for a successful outcome, however the time elapsed combined with the weather conditions experienced make survival more challenging”, it said.

Two bodies were pulled from the ocean on Thursday afternoon by the Chinese navy, China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported.

No survivors or life rafts have been spotted.

Chinese authorities say the missing crew includes 17 from China, 17 from Indonesia and five from the Philippines.

India, whose ties with China have been strained by a deadly border dispute, said it sent reconnaissance planes to help in the search.

The aircraft “have carried out multiple and extensive searches despite adverse weather and located multiple objects possibly belonging to the sunken vessel”, navy spokesman Commander Vivek Mehul said in a statement.

On Wednesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Qiang ordered Chinese diplomats, as well as the agriculture and transportation ministries, to assist in the search for survivors.

The search authority said the multinational search effort continued on Thursday over an area of 4,600 square miles south of where the upturned hull was found.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Chinese and international agencies remain positive about the search and rescue operation.

“The Chinese government expressed its sincere gratitude and high appreciation. The relevant search and rescue operations are still ongoing,” Mr Wang said at a daily briefing in Beijing.

The capsized boat was based in the eastern coastal province of Shandong and operated by Penglai Jinglu Fishery.

Another Chinese vessel, Lu Peng Yuan Yu 018, was operating near the upturned hull and continued to search on Thursday, the Australian authority said.

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