Hopes fade for ship survivors off Vietnam as weather hampers search

HANOI - Bad weather hampered a search on Monday for 16 Philippine seamen missing since their cargo ship sank off Vietnam, a Vietnamese rescue official said.

The Bulk Jupiter, owned by Bermuda-based Gearbulk Holdings, was carrying 46,400 metric tonnes of bauxite bulk from Malaysia to China, the company said.

It sent out a distress signal early on Friday. One crew member, the ship's chef, has been rescued and two bodies, including that of the captain, have been recovered.

"The weather is very bad with high waves and strong winds," said Pham Hien, vice president of the Vung Tau Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, which is leading the search.

"We are all hoping but until now, no further survivor has been found," he told Reuters by telephone.

Vietnam has asked Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and China to help in the search and authorities are working with the sole survivor to try to determine why the ship capsized and sank.

Gearbulk Holdings said relatives of the crew had been notified. "Our focus is now on the search and rescue operation and to look after the families affected," it said on its website (www.gearbulk.com).