Skip to main content

Chinese sailors rescued in Pacific, six remain missing

By Euan McKirdy, CNN
May 5, 2014 -- Updated 1200 GMT (2000 HKT)
  • Chinese sailors found floating on life raft by Venezuelan fishing boat after their ship sank
  • 11 rescued, including two who are seriously injured and two who later died
  • Six seamen remain missing
  • U.S. Air Force assisted in the rescue

(CNN) -- A Venezuelan fishing boat has rescued 11 Chinese sailors, including four suffering from severe burns, from a life raft floating in the Pacific Ocean about 1,100 km (684 miles) off the coast of Mexico.

Six sailors from the Chinese vessel remain missing, and two of the rescued men subsequently died from their injuries.

Airmen from an Arizona-based United States Air Force Search and Rescue team assisted in the recovery of two of the seamen, who were critically injured, a spokesperson from the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base said Sunday.

The uninjured crew members, along with the bodies of the two deceased, were transferred to a Chinese-flagged vessel which was in the area and are being repatriated.

The Venezuelan vessel radioed a request for assistance late Friday afternoon, and airmen from the 563rd Rescue Group, based in Tucson, Arizona, flew to the location to treat the injured crew, where emergency treatment continued into Sunday aboard the ship.

The team parachuted from an Air Force aircraft after an 11-hour flight to the remote location in the Pacific, approaching the fishing boat on Zodiac inflatables.

The airmen were preparing for the world's largest Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) exercise, codenamed Angel Thunder, when the real-world distress call came through, a 12th Air Force report stated.

"We were preparing for the training exercise when we were notified of what was going on," 1st Lt. Ben Schmidt, 48th Rescue Squadron Combat Rescue Officer was quoted as saying.

"As a Guardian Angel, this is what we are trained and equipped to do, so there is no better way to show our capabilities."

Capt. Susan Harrington, Public Affairs Officer at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, told CNN that the military was hoping to transfer the two injured crew members back to Cabo San Lucas, the nearest landfall in Mexico, on Monday (local time).

"We are prepared to rescue anyone, anytime, anywhere, when tasked by the Air Force," Col. Sean Choquette, 563rd RQG Commander, said. "Our airmen train diligently to execute difficult missions like this one."

Family rescued at sea

U.S. Navy responds to distress call in Aegean Sea

Part of complete coverage on
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2245 GMT (0645 HKT)
Pakistan Taliban say the school attack was revenge for the killing of children in a military offensive -- but they are being pressed by defections to ISIS.
A group that claims it hacked Sony Pictures has posted a public threat against moviegoers who see Sony's "The Interview."
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0243 GMT (1043 HKT)
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0948 GMT (1748 HKT)
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 0212 GMT (1012 HKT)
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 0012 GMT (0812 HKT)
A social media campaign condemning Islamophobia under the hashtag #illridewithyou has taken off after Sydney hostage siege.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1144 GMT (1944 HKT)
China-bound AirAsia flight turns back to Bangkok after passenger throws water over crew member.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1026 GMT (1826 HKT)
It takes Nepalese eye doctor, Sanduk Ruit about five minutes to change someone's life.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1054 GMT (1854 HKT)
This epic journey crosses 13,000 kilometers, eight countries over 21 days. Find out where.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1431 GMT (2231 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.