China’s ambassador to Australia has issued a demand on behalf of his President Xi Jinping, calling on Australia to assist in the search for a missing fishing vessel.
Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) aircraft is searching a remote patch of the Indian Ocean, about 5000km northwest of Perth, for the boat with 39 people on board.
Ambassador Xiao Qian addressed the media on Thursday, where he said a number of countries were being asked to assist.
“President Xi has made very important instructions … to co-ordinate with our friendly countries, Australia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Maldives and other relevant countries for a possible immediate search and rescue,” he said.
“This is within Australia’s search and rescue area, but it’s pretty far from the Australia continent.
“We wish our Australian colleagues will co-ordinate with other international or foreign vessels or ships near the area to help to search and rescue to save as many lives as possible.”
Mr Xiao said of the 39 on board, 17 are from China, 17 from Indonesia and five are from the Philippines.
Three Australian aircraft and four ships were sent to the search area on Wednesday.
The distress signal from the boat was detected early on Tuesday morning.
“What has been discovered now is that there seems to be [a capsized ship] and looks likely to be the Chinese fishing ship,” said Mr Xiao, after an upturned hull was spotted in the search area.
“But to this moment, no individual has been found alive whatsoever.”
NCA NewsWire has contacted AMSA for comment.