All crew safe but fate of burnt fishing boat unknown

The fate of a badly burnt Chinese fishing vessel remains uncertain after its crew were rescued over the weekend.

The Director of the Fiji Maritime Surveillance Rescue Co-ordination Centre, Sairusi Colati, said all 18 crew members from the vessel were now safe.

Fouteen crew aboard the Jin Xiang 6 were saved by their sister ship on Saturday morning, 400 nautical miles west of Tuvalu, Mr Colati said.

Four others, who abandoned ship, were found by New Zealand's P3 Orion aircraft, he said.

"And they rescue another three by Saturday afternoon. The last person was spotted by the P3 Orion. Jin Xiang 7 was tasked again to the last person (who) was missing. And now they are safe, they are in good health on board Jin Xiang 7," Mr Colati said.

Minor injuries sustained by some crew members have been treated, he said.

The cause of the fire is unknown and the crew will be questioned once they return to Fiji, Mr Colati said.

The rescue centre is now waiting for confirmation from the boat's agent as to whether the vessel has sunk, he said.

The vessel and it's sister ship Jin Xiang 7 were both fishing legally, Mr Colati added.