The Sri Lankan navy announced on Wednesday (24) that they had found 14 bodies inside a Chinese fishing boat that had capsized the previous week.
The boat had a total of 39 crew members on board, including 17 Chinese, 17 Indonesians, and five Filipinos.
The tragic discovery was made following a preliminary investigation by the Chinese government, which concluded that there were no survivors.
The incident occurred on May 16 when the Lu Peng Yuan Yu 028 overturned within Australia’s extensive search-and-rescue region, located 5,000 kilometers (2,700 nautical miles) west of Perth.
Sri Lankan navy divers successfully recovered two bodies and identified an additional 12 bodies on Tuesday.
Distressing images released by the navy depicted the overturned red hull of the vessel and the recovery of the deceased individuals from the water.
The Sri Lankan navy reported that they had mapped the locations of the 12 bodies found inside the boat and shared the information with Chinese authorities.
This update from the Sri Lankan navy came a day after a preliminary investigation conducted by the Chinese transport ministry, which determined that all individuals on board had tragically lost their lives.
Australia had dispatched three airplanes and four ships to support the international search-and-rescue operations.
According to the Chinese transport ministry, rescuers extensively searched an area of approximately 64,000 square kilometers (18,700 square nautical miles) but unfortunately did not discover any indications of survivors.
The distress signal from the fishing vessel was initially detected during the presence of Cyclone Fabian, which generated extremely high waves reaching up to seven meters (23 feet) and powerful winds reaching speeds of 120 kilometres per hour (75 miles per hour) in the region.
Rescue operations were hampered by adverse weather conditions, while the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) in Canberra cautioned about “challenging” conditions for survival.
The Penglai Jinglu Fishery Company, a significant state-owned fishing company in China, owned the capsized vessel. The vessel had authorisation from the North Pacific Fisheries Commission to engage in fishing activities for neon flying squid and Pacific saury.
According to the Marine Traffic tracking website, the vessel departed from Cape Town, South Africa, on May 5 and was heading towards Busan, South Korea. The last recorded location of the vessel was on May 10, southeast of Reunion, a small French island in the Indian Ocean.