Scores missing after Chinese ships sink

AFP-JIJI

More than 70 people were missing after three Chinese boats sank in a powerful typhoon in the South China Sea, state media said Monday, as Vietnam undertook mass evacuations.

So far, 74 people have been confirmed missing as “three fishing boats have sunk since Sunday afternoon,” China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported, citing maritime authorities.

They were caught in rough waters whipped up by Typhoon Wutip, which was expected to make landfall in Vietnam’s central region late Monday.

The boats — which were together carrying 88 fishermen — sank after they attempted to navigate gales near the Paracel Islands, about 330 km off China’s southern coast.

Altogether five boats carrying 171 people were caught in the stormy seas. As of noon Monday, rescuers had retrieved 14 survivors.

Vietnam has so far evacuated 70,000 people from high-risk areas as it prepares for the typhoon, according to that country’s National Flood and Storm Control Department.