2008-07-14 10:19:25 GMT 2008-07-14 18:19:25 (Beijing Time) Xinhua English
ANTANANARIVO, July 14 (Xinhua) -- There has been no trace of the nine Chinese, including 8 businessmen from Taiwan and another one from the mainland, who have been missing off Madagascar's northeastern island of Sainte Marie since last Thursday.
Rescue mission was still going on by the Madagascan Naval, the coast guards and the police, Mr. Xu Jinlong, the Chinese consul in Toamsina, told Xinhua through telephone early on Monday.
Over six ships and small planes had been searching for the Chinese and Madagascan crew over the sea while the soldiers and police carried their mission around the nearby coast, Mr. Xu said.
The Chinese set off last Thursday aboard a boat from Sainte Marie, some 500 km northeast of Antananarivo, to Masoala, nearly 100 km north of Sainte Marie, on a inspecting tour for fishery sources.
A reliable source told Xinhua last Saturday that the ship dropped anchor around 8:40 p.m. (1740 GMT) about 20 km off the coast with reasons unknown.
Liu Shouzhi, one of the businessman from Taiwan, called his wife here around 12:40 a.m. on Friday (2140 GMT on Thursday), saying that they were in critical danger due to strong wind and the ship was about to overturn. Communications with the ship was cut shortly after the call.
Two of the crew of 6 were found alive and rescued on Saturday morning, news reaching here said.
According to the two Madagascan boatmen, there were 13 people all together when they set off on board the ship, which had a capacity of 30 passengers.
The passengers and the crew left the ship in two groups just after midnight on Thursday, all with life jackets, the rescued crew members said.
At the request of the Chinese Embassy here, the Madagascan government organized a rescue mission, which has been going on since last Friday.
Mr. Xu Jinlong said that there was still hope for survivals though there had been no signs of the Chinese on board the ship following more than three days of searching.
Relatives of the Taiwanese businessmen are scheduled to arrive here on Monday.