Over a dozen people remain missing after the Chinese engineering vessel Fujing001, with a crew of 30, sank about 300 kilometers (185 miles) southwest of Hong Kong on Saturday when a typhoon hit southern China with winds of 144 km/h (89 .5 m/h).
While the Hong Kong State Flying Service pulled three people to safety on Saturday, hopes that more survivors would be found faded after the service said on Sunday evening that the likelihood of this was “very, very low”.
However, just hours later, the Guangdong Maritime Search and Rescue Center in southern China announced that it had rescued a fourth crew member, who was described as being in “normal physical condition.”
Guangdong authorities also said they found what are believed to be the remains of 12 other crew members and that the bodies are still being identified.
The discovery of the fourth crew member followed the resumption of search operations on Sunday. According to the Hong Kong Department of Marine Corps, the search was suspended overnight on Saturday due to bad weather that made it too dangerous for rescue teams.
“The chances of finding (any other crew) alive are very, very low,” Hong Kong State Flight Inspector West Wu Wai-hung said at a press conference on Sunday after his service saved three crews.
“We would like to give our hearts to these families of missing sailors and workers and I wish we could find survivors, it would be a miracle.”
The following day, the Guangzhou Naval Base confirmed that a fourth crew member, described as a deck worker, had been rescued alive and that steps were being taken to bring him to shore.
The three crew members rescued by the Hong Kong Air Service are in stable condition and are being treated at North Lantau Hospital.
The 240-meter (787 ft) vessel, described by Chinese authorities as a “floating crane”, was being used to build a wind farm off the coast of southern China when Chaba collapsed.
The Hong Kong Air Service said it had deployed three planes, six helicopters and 36 rescuers for the search operation, which spanned 1,300 kilometers (807 miles) as of Sunday.
The Guangdong Maritime Search and Rescue Center said it used seven rescue vessels, as well as rescue, merchant and coast guard vessels.
The center said it had also agreed with China Southern Airlines to send rescue helicopters.