[OFFICIAL] Taiwanese ship carrying 49 people vanishes off South America – agency

A Taiwanese fishing vessel carrying 49 crew members, most of them from Indonesia, the Philippines, and China, vanished in the remote South Atlantic off of South America last month, shortly after its captain reported that the ship was taking on water, authorities in Taiwan reported on Sunday.

Contact with the "Hsiang Fu Chuen," a 700-ton squid fishing boat, was lost at 3 a.m. on February 26 after its captain reported that the vessel was taking on water, Taiwan's Fisheries Agency said on Sunday, adding that it immediately launched a search-and-rescue operation. It was not clear why it had taken more than a week for Taiwanese authorities to publicly disclose the incident.

The vessel's last known position was about 1,700 nautical miles (3,150 kilometers) from the Falkland Islands off of South America. A search of the area has so far found no trace of the vessel, despite it being equipped with a system that automatically broadcasts a signal when placed under water.

The absence of a mayday signal from the system has led some Vietnamese media outlets to speculate that the vessel may not have sunk. Authorities have requested satellite imagery from the region in the hopes of being able to find the vessel, which was carrying a total of 49 people, including 2 from Taiwan, 11 from China's mainland, 21 from Indonesia, 13 from the Philippines, and 2 from Vietnam.

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