TAIPEI, Taiwan - One of the deceased victims of the recent shipwreck off the coast of Penghu (澎湖) sacrificed his life to save passengers onboard late on Friday, testimony from reports on the incident shows.
The Ocean Researcher V, the largest research vessel in Taiwan, reportedly struck a reef and sank near Penghu.
Out of 45 researchers and crew on the ship, researchers Hsu Shih-chieh (許世傑) and Lin I-chun (林怡君) perished in the shipwreck while the others were all rescued.
The Ocean Researcher V set sail from Anping harbour in Tainan on Thursday heading toward the seas off Penghu and Matsu (馬祖) islands. Amid terrible weather conditions, the northeast monsoon coupled with typhoon Vongfong, the vessel turned to head back to Taiwan.
As it sailed near the coast of Penghu, an announcement on the PA system told passengers to abandon ship. Several people fell overboard after the ship lurched, according to testimony cited in the Liberty Times on Sunday.
While the researchers were putting on life jackets, Hsu directed them out of the cabin and onto the deck, staying behind to check that everyone had left.
Meanwhile, the vessel continued to sink, leaving the stern completely submerged.
The passengers, afraid of falling into the water, lay down on the deck. Hsu stood bent over below the crowd, to prevent anyone from slipping toward the stern, according to testimony cited in the Apple Daily on Sunday.
All the while, Hsu kept on counting the prostrated researchers, checking that everyone was still onboard, the witness, a graduate student named Hsu Chia-lun (許家綸), said, according to the Apple Daily.
In the ensuing chaos, Hsu assisted and directed all the researchers to safety before jumping overboard. The press speculated that his drowning might be because Hsu did not have time to properly don his life jacket in the rush, or he was exhausted after saving other people.
Loss Devastates Lin's Family
Lin reportedly bumped her head several times before falling into the water.
The cause of her death will be revealed after the autopsy. Lin was a devoted daughter, commuting daily between Tainan and Kaohsiung to take care of her blind and wheelchair-bound father and her grandmother who has Alzheimer's, according to the Apple Daily. Lin's family was reported to be devastated by the loss.
The Apple Daily further cited testimony from Lin's colleagues who said she was a passionate, dedicated "source of delight" (開心果).
"She was filled with passion about the ocean," Lin's boss Yang Yi (楊益), chief of scouting aboard Ocean Researcher V, said.
The team included researchers from Academia Sinica and the National Applied Research Laboratories (NARL), and professors and students from National Taiwan Ocean University, National Cheng Kung University, National Yang-Ming University and YunTech.
Hsu and Lin were researchers from Academia Sinica and NARL, respectively. Hsu, the leader of the team, was called Teacher Hsu by the others.
The Apple Daily cited Hsu Chia-lun as commenting that "Teacher Hsu was very reliable. He was the last one to leave the ship."
Expert in 'suspended microparticles'
The Apple Daily cited Academia Sinica's Research Center for Environmental Changes Director Dr. Shaw-chen Liu (劉紹臣) as saying that Hsu was a leading scientist in the study of oceanic suspension microparticles, and his loss was a severe blow to the institute's studies in the relevant fields.
His contributions include participating in a team project in 2007 that revealed industrial pollution from mainland China being the source of high concentrations of suspended microparticles in Kinmen.
Deputy director of the centre Dr. Huang-hsiung Hsu (許晃雄) said that Hsu and his siblings were raised by their mother alone.
Hsu worked long hours and was committed to both his work and his family, the deputy director said.