Reports Wednesday said 39 people are missing more than 24 hours after a Chinese fishing boat operating in the Indian Ocean capsized.
Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said the accident happened around 3 a.m. Tuesday. The report said the crew includes 17 from China, 17 from Indonesia and five from the Philippines.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Qiang have ordered Chinese diplomats abroad, as well as the agriculture and transportation ministries, to assist in the search for survivors.
“All-out efforts” must be made in the rescue operation, Xi was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua News Agency. Li ordered unspecified measures to “reduce casualties and strengthen safety management of fishing vessels at sea to ensure safe maritime transport and production,” Xinhua said.
No word was given on the cause of the capsizing.
Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines have also expressed their willingness to join in the search. Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency said the capsizing occurred about 4,600 kilometers (2,900 miles) northwest of Australia.
Several ships and an Australian Defense Force P-8A Poseidon aircraft have been searching the area. The Indian Ocean stretches from South Asia and the Arabian Peninsula to east Africa and western Australia. No survivors or life rafts have been spotted.
The Philippine Coast Guard Command Center said Wednesday it was monitoring the situation and coordinating with the Chinese Embassy in Manila, as well as search and rescue teams operating near the vessel’s last known location.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said it was coordinating the search in what it called a remote location in the Indian Ocean, about 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles) northwest of the coastal city of Perth. It said the agency received a distress beacon signal from the fishing vessel at about 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, Australian time, and that weather conditions in the area Tuesday were “extreme,” but had improved by Wednesday.
Merchant and fishing vessels in the area were also searching for survivors Wednesday.