S China Sea typhoon death toll rises to 6

Updated: 2013-10-04 15:52


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SANSHA - Rescuers on Friday retrieved the bodies of two more fishermen from the South China Sea in the aftermath of Typhoon Wutip, while another 56 remain missing after the typhoon struck on Sunday.

Altogether, six bodies have been found so far.

Rescuers expanded their search areas and launched underwater searches on Friday, according to Chen Zhirong, vice governor of south China's Hainan Province.

Police have identified three of the six fishermen's bodies as of Friday morning.

"We have informed their families of the sad news and we will help them deal with the aftermath," said Chen Jialin, vice mayor of Jiangmen City, Guangdong Province, who is now in Sanya of Hainan Province to help relocate rescued fishermen back to their homes.

At 4 a.m., 54 fishermen from Jiangmen started their journey home by bus and they are expected to arrive at 7 p.m., according to Chen Jialin.

The 54 were among 268 fishermen who were trapped in the South China Sea by Typhoon Wutip and rescued by a navy ship sent by the Chinese government.

The injured from this group have been hospitalized, while more ships have been sent to search for the missing 56, who were aboard three fishing boats that sank near Shanhu Island in the Xisha Islands on Sunday afternoon.

According to the Hainan Maritime Search and Rescue Center, 11 navy warships, eight civilian ships and 10 aircraft are searching the area where the boats sank.

Altogether, five fishing boats, including the three that sank, were caught in Typhoon Wutip on Sunday, said the center.

The fishermen had received typhoon warnings starting on Friday but did not go ashore. Instead, they placed their ships in a lagoon south of Shanhu Island to avoid gales, but the typhoon overturned their boats.

Wutip gathered power, becoming a super typhoon when it swept across nearby waters on Sunday, packing winds of up to 151.2 km per hour at its eye.

Strong gales and waves have hampered the rescue work, but the sea water temperature in the area is over 20 degrees Celsius, which means a higher chance of survival, according to rescuers.