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04 May 2011 19:56
The South African Navy has deployed a frigate to Tristan da Cunha island in the South Atlantic ocean to provide medical support to a Taiwanese fishing vessel, the Department of Defence said on Wednesday.
It said the South African Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) asked the South African National Defence Force to conduct a search and rescue operation after a gas explosion on a fishing vessel on Friday.
The department said the Navy deployed the SAS Islandlwana to Tristan Da Cunha on Tuesday with teams from the South African Air Force, the South African Military Health Service and other state security departments.
They would provide medical care for any injured crew members and would prepare them for transportation to South Africa.
The 10-day rescue operation would end on May 12.
Samsa spokesperson Tebogo Ramatjie said the explosion on the fishing vessel Lai-Ching was caused by an ammonia gas leak.
There were 37 crew members on board. Four crew members were missing and 33 survivors had been picked up by a sister vessel, he said.
At the time, the boat was 800 nautical miles south-west of Tristan da Cunha.
Ramatjie said the Chinese government had asked South Africa to respond to a distress signal from the vessel.
South Africa was the closest maritime safety authority able to provide the medical help needed.—Sapa
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