Sunken Ship Believed To Be Foreign-Owned

A log carrier that sank in the Taiwan Straits last week probably belonged to a foreign company sailing under the Cambodian flag, shipping officials said Sun­day.

As authorities in the Straits sorted out the death toll and cause of Thursday’s sinking, Pheng Hok, a government shipping official in Sihanoukville, said the ship’s owners and crew were probably foreigners. A government policy allows ships to sail under the Cambodian flag provided they pay taxes on it.

“There are no log carriers out of Sihanoukville, but the government has provided licenses to hundred of goods carriers to use the Cambodian flag for business operations,” Pheng Hok said.

Most of the foreign companies are Korean, and they use the Cambodian flag because it is relatively inexpensive and Cam­bodian regulations are less stringent, Phen Hok said.

“It is a government policy in order to collect taxes,” Phen Hok said of the program. “But it also helps businessmen to increase their income.”

According to the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS, the Pamella Dream, carrying a Russian crew of 19, sank Thursday 100 km west of the Taiwanese coast. Three crew members are confirmed dead and four are missing.

Survivors, plucked from the sea by several passing ships, were taken to Hong Kong over the weekend.

One of the rescue vessels was the passenger liner Aurora. A passenger on board the liner, Kit Cummings, said the liner had been cruising along the Taiwan Straits when the captain informed passengers that a boat was sinking, and they were altering course and steaming to the rescue. Cummings estimated that about 10 people had been rescued from the water by other ships in the vicinity.

Cummings said it remains unclear why the Cambodian vessel went down, although there is speculation that huge logs on board the vessel “must have moved and caused the ship to founder.”

(Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse)





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