A Norwegian cargo ship with 19 Filipino crew members sank off the coast of southern Vietnam with only one man known to have survived, officials said Sunday.
Two bodies have been recovered since the Bulk Jupiter sank Friday en route from Malaysia to China, and Vietnamese rescuers aided by commercial ships passing through the area continued to search for the others, according to Vietnamese authorities and the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs.
The lone survivor was the chief cook on the ship, but he is refusing to cooperate with rescuers, making the search more difficult, a Vietnamese rescue official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to media.
The man refused to say what happened with the ship, the official said. It wasn't clear why he wasn't talking.
The ship owner, Bergen-based Gearbulk, said the vessel was 155 nautical miles off Vietnam with a cargo of bauxite when it sent a distress signal that was picked up by the Japanese coast guard. The Philippine Foreign Affairs said the 623-foot long, 56,000-ton ship sank off the coast of Vung Tau, which is about 59 miles from the southern commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City.
The rescue operation was hampered Saturday by hazy weather and high waves.
Vessels from Liberia, Oman, Singapore and China were helping in the search, the Philippine Foreign Affairs said.