By HAU DINH
HANOI, Vietnam — A Vietnamese fishing boat capsized after being rammed by a Chinese vessel in the South China Sea’s contested Paracel Islands, a Vietnamese official said Friday. China said its boat came upon the fishing vessel after it started sinking and sought help for the crew.
The boat was fishing near Discovery Reef when the incident occurred Wednesday, said the Vietnamese official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The Paracel archipelago is claimed by both Vietnam and China, which took control of the islands in 1974.
An online report by the newspaper Tuoi Tre said the five crewmen aboard the Vietnamese boat clung to the bow of their upturned vessel for two hours until they were rescued by another Vietnamese fishing boat.
The official Chinese Communist Party newspaper reported that a Chinese government vessel received a distress call from a Vietnamese fishing boat and sailed to the area, where it found the boat partly sunk. The online report, said the Chinese ship immediately contacted China’s maritime search and rescue center to dispatch a rescue vessel and the five Vietnamese fishermen were rescued.