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Ferry drifts off Taiwan island of Matsu with 389 passengers on board

Engine broke down early Saturday morning

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The Taima Star ferry was towed into Nangan Harbor more than 9 hours after losing power. (CNA, Coast Guard Administration photo)

The Taima Star ferry was towed into Nangan Harbor more than 9 hours after losing power. (CNA, Coast Guard Administration photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Taima Star ferry drifted around for hours Saturday (June 3) with 389 passengers on board after engine trouble near the outlying island of Matsu.

The ship left Keelung in northern Taiwan Friday (June 2) at 10 p.m., but around 4 a.m. Saturday, its engines failed, leaving the ship unable to complete its journey. The incident happened about 30 nautical miles (56 km) from its destination, the Liberty Times reported.

Of the 389 passengers, 209 were traveling to Nangan and 180 to Dongyin. An emergency local government meeting decided to send ships to tow the ferry into harbor, while the Coast Guard Administration ordered three of its vessels to accompany them.

The group reached the Taima Star around 10 a.m., but the process of towing the ship to safety would last another four hours at least, CNA reported. Passengers reportedly went hungry, and became angry at the crew for trying to sell them canned food, the report said.

Once the ferry arrived at Fuao Harbor in Nangan, each passenger received water, food, and NT$600 (US$20) in compensation. Other ships were sent to transport passengers who wanted to travel onward to Dongyin and Juguang, according to the authorities.

The Taima Star reportedly arrived safely in Matsu around 3 p.m., while a repair team flew over from Taiwan's main island, per CNA. Officials said the ship would not be allowed to resume sailing until a thorough inspection had been conducted.