5 Filipino workers still missing following Taiwan-registered fishing boat fire

The vessel caught fire during a fishing expedition in the South Atlantic

(Screencaps of video from Facebook/Aan Hen Sueke)

(Screencaps of video from Facebook/Aan Hen Sueke)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Five Filipino fishermen are still missing after a Kaohsiung-registered squid fishing boat set ablaze while traversing the Atlantic Ocean on Feb. 11, The Maritime Bureau of Kaohsiung City Government confirmed Monday.

The Jun Rong longliner caught fire just off the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic Ocean. 69 people in total were aboard when the incident occurred.

New video footage has surfaced showing the extent of the damage to the ship. The recording was posted by a Facebook user on Feb. 16 and appears to have been taken from a nearby vessel, where crew members are preparing to aid those stranded on the Jun Rong as it is consumed by flames.

Maritime Bureau Director-General Chao Shao-lien (紹廉告) told CNA reporters that out of the 69 that were aboard when the Jun Rong set sail, 64 have been rescued, leaving five still missing. With the assistance of workers on other nearby vessels, the rescued fishermen were taken to a harbor in Uruguayan capital Montevideo.

Jun Rong Fishery will arrange for each of the workers to be transported back to their own country.

The 998-ton Jun Rong carried 69 people out to the South Atlantic Ocean, including four Taiwanese, 22 Filipino citizens, 28 Indonesian citizens, nine Vietnamese, one Burmese and one Chinese national. The Maritime Bureau said the government will offer the fishery all necessary assistance to ensure the rescued workers make it home safely.

The Taiwan Squid Fishery Association said squid fishing season has just begun, and many vessels have recently set sail to begin work. The cause of the boat fire is still unclear.

The Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs published a statement declaring it is still undertaking a search and rescue mission for the missing five workers, and maintains hope they will be found. The Philippine embassy in the UK is in close contact with British authorities, who are also offering their assistance.