|A rescue ship takes boats belonged to the missing fishermen to Yongxing Island, south China's Hainan Province, Oct. 2, 2013. Search is ongoing for 58 people missing in the South China Sea amid strong gales after three fishing boats have sunk since Sunday afternoon due to the Typhoon Wutip. (Xinhua/Zhao Yingquan)|
Rescue work continued on Wednesday as 58 fishermen remain missing in the South China Sea after three fishing boats sank due to Typhoon Wutip on Sunday afternoon.
Authorities are checking and confirming the list of missing people, said public security and civil affairs authorities in Taishan City in south China's Guangdong Province, where the boats were registered.
A total of 88 fishermen and their five boats, all from Guangdong, went missing near Shanhu Island in the Xisha Islands, about 330 km from China's island province of Hainan.
Three boats are confirmed to have sunk, and four fishermen have been confirmed dead.
As of 6 p.m. Tuesday, rescuers had saved 12 fishermen and temporarily sheltered them on Yongqing Island off the coast of Hainan.
Zhang Jie, a spokesman with the Hainan Maritime Affairs Bureau, said on Tuesday that a total of 37 vessels and 10 airplanes are searching the waters for more survivors.
More than 10,000 soldiers from the navy participated the rescue mission on Wednesday, searching for survivors in waters covering an area of 15,000 square kilometers.
The weather conditions have improved and the navy is ready to send more soldiers and expand the area of searching, said Wang Dengping, political commissar of the navy's Nanhai Fleet.
The fishermen had received typhoon warnings starting on Friday but did not go ashore. Instead, they placed their ships in a lagoon south of Shanhu Island to avoid gales, but the typhoon overturned their boats.
Wutip gained power, growing into a super typhoon as it swept across nearby waters on Sunday and packed winds of up to 151.2 km per hour at its eye.
Meanwhile, the navy barracks on Chenhang Island have provided temporary shelter and food to 268 fishermen trapped by the typhoon.
The hospital ship "Ark of Peace," which was scheduled to return to port following a mission, changed course and is now rushing to the South China Sea to join the search and rescue work.
Staff aboard the hospital ship have prepared blankets, ventilators and other emergency equipment and have readied temporary emergency medical units on board the ship for helicopter rescue work.