The government will continue investigations to determine the causes behind the sinking of Hai Hsiang No. 8, which claimed the lives of six people on Monday, officials from the Maritime and Port Bureau said yesterday.
Thirteen of the 15 crew members were rescued off the coast of northeastern Taiwan, but two Taiwanese nationals and four Indonesians succumbed to their injuries despite being rushed to hospital.
Coast guards are still searching for the captain of the Greater Kaohsiung-registered gravel ship, Tung Jung-ken (董榮根), and engineer Chen Jen-pei (陳仁培).
Realizing that the 2,998-tonne vessel was tilting, Tung informed bureau officials he was returning to Keelung Harbor, but the ship sank before it reached safety, said Hsu Tang-hsiu (許堂修), deputy director of the bureau’s northern office.
The ship was equipped with rescue boats, but crew members did not release them because they only had time to strap on life jackets, indicating that the boat sank quickly, Hsu added.
Hsu said officials would investigate whether the company misreported the cargo the ship was carrying and why the boat set sail a day late instead of on Sunday as scheduled, Hsu said.
Officials will also look into what Tung told the company before the ship sank and who ordered the ship to set sail when it was one crew member short, Hsu said.
The company had reported that 16 crew members were on board when, in fact, chief engineer Chao Cheng (趙澄) had not boarded the ship, Hsu said.
Although Chao’s absence did not directly cause the incident, his absence constitutes a violation and he could face a maximum fine of NT$300,000, Hsu said.
In a written explanation yesterday, Chao told the bureau that he had returned home to take medication because of a cold.
The bureau asked Chao to provide a more detailed explanation for his absence.