Sixteen Taiwanese fishermen were rescued off the coast of South Africa on Tuesday after their fishing vessel, Teng Ming Yang caught fire, the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) has said.
The incident happened some 1 100km south east of Durban. MRCC Cape Town was alerted at around 06:45 via a satellite-aided search and rescue initiative, the COSPAS SARSAT system.
"The MRCC team on duty immediately contacted the Taipei Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) to obtain additional details while using the satellite automatic identification system (AIS) to identify any vessels near Teng Ming that could be called upon to assist," said MRCC in a statement.
"Taipei RCC reported that Teng Ming had reported a fire onboard and its 16 crew members were going to abandon the vessel to life rafts."
A mayday call was issued for vessels in the area to assist. Fortunately, according to MRCC, a vessel 500km away responded to the SOS. The rescue mission was completed just after 09:00 and all 16 fishermen aboard were rescued from the life raft, reported the MRCC.
"The Teng Ming Yang was still burning and sinking slowly."
Sobantu Tilayi, acting CEO of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), hailed the rescue operation as demonstrating South Africa's commitment to safety of life at sea and to its seamless interaction with other governments and NGOs involved with maritime rescue.
"South Africa's search and rescue systems are world class and the country has yet again demonstrated its position as a leading maritime nation in the field of safety at sea," said Tilayi.
A navigational warning has been issued to other ships in the area.