Still looking deeply shocked by a nightmare on the high seas after their ship sank off the coast of northern Philippines Tuesday night, the 11 Chinese seamen still couldn't believe that they had the luck to have a passing Indian ship to pick them up and bring them to Manila.
"You really don't know how cold and misery it was, it was beyond words to describe," said one of the survivors when they were visited by a large group of Filipino journalists and then by officials from the Chinese Embassy here.
The ship, 4,000-ton M.V Unicorn Ace, was carrying lumber products from Malaysia to Taiwan, China, when it suddenly met with bad weather in the South China Sea and sank within 30 minutes.
It was night when the ship went down and some of the 19-member crew depended on one rubber life boat -- as another of the only two life boats had been torn apart by falling lumbers -- to keep alive, but some of them never made it to the boat.
Eleven seamen were rescued by M.V. Prabhu Yukika, an Indian bulk ship which was passing the site six hours after the disaster took place. The crew on the Indian ship saw the click of a red light on the life boat and arrived immediately to save 11 people who were one the brink of drowning and being frozen to death.
Two other crew members were rescued by another ship, which also found a dead body, while five are still missing.
The ship wrecking took place off the coast of Ilocos Norte, 450 kilometers north of Manila, after M.V Unicorn Ace, which was owned by a company in Taiwan of China but flew Panamanian flag, sank allegedly due to bad weather.
The survivors told Xinhua the ship was carrying lumber from Malaysia to Taiwan when it sank, but did not provide further details.
The captain of M.V Prabhu Yuvika, Gurvinder Singh, who wore a Sikh turban and with Indian beard, said all his crew came to the rescue of the survivors with all their force. They then provided them with cigarette and food when the Chinese came on board the brown and black big cargo ship.
Chinese Consul General in Manila, Guo Shaochun, expressed deep appreciation for the help by Indian friends, saying it embodied the friendship between the two peoples.
When the Chinese seamen left the deck, they waved good-bye to their Indian peers and also life-savors, who also wished them good luck.
A group of Filipino journalists and photographers used this opportunity to show their typical Filipino curiosity and hospitality. Several TV service vehicles also parked at the Coast Guard headquarters and the Manila South Harbor waiting for the chance to shoot the arrival of Chinese seamen.
Consul Guo later arranged their landing in Manila with Philippine authorities with the help of Manila Bureau of London- based global maritime insurance group, Protection and Indemnity's Manila bureau president Andrew Malpass.
Ten of the survivors were from Shandong Province in east China, one from Zhejiang Province in southeast China and one from Taiwan province.
They will undergo a medical checkup in Manila and then will fly back to China after having their legal documents submitted to the Philippine authorities.