Fishermen recount shock of missile strike on their boat

Kaohsiung, July 5 (CNA) The two migrant fishermen said Tuesday that when the boat they were on was hit by a missile from Taiwan last Friday they were both asleep and had no idea what had happened but were scared and worried that the vessel would sink.

Joemar Calasag, a Filipino who has been working in Taiwan for eight years, told CNA that he was asleep when the missile ripped through the "Hsiang Li Sheng" in the Taiwan Strait.

Calasag said he had no clue what had taken place and thought the boat was about to sink in the waters off the Penghu Islands. It was not until he saw the news on a hospital TV that he realized the fishing boat had been hit by a Hsiung Feng III missile, which had been accidentally launched from a naval vessel in Kaohsiung, Calasag said."I'm still in shock," said Calasag, who suffered injuries to both legs but can still walk.

The other fisherman, Vietnamese Bui Trong Van who had been working in Taiwan for only 40 days, also said he was asleep when the incident occurred. He said he woke up to find that he could not move and later learned that his left leg was broken and he would have to use a wheelchair temporarily to get around.

Both workers said their families back home learned about the incident from news reports. Bui said he hoped to continue working in Taiwan, but he did not want to be a fisherman anymore. Calasag, meanwhile, said he was worried about losing his job because the fishing boat had been wrecked. He said he would continue to work for the same employer once they would be willing to retain him.

The locally developed Hsiung Feng III anti-ship missile was launched by mistake from a Chinchiang-class corvette at Zuoying Military Harbor in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, at 8:15 a.m. Friday, while the Navy was checking and testing the missile system. About two minutes after it was launched, the missile hit the "Hsiang Li Sheng," which was sailing some 40 nautical miles northwest of the harbor. The skipper Huang Wen-chung was killed, while the two migrant fishermen and the skipper's son were injured. (By Wang Shu-fen and Christie Chen)