LABUAN: A Taiwanese fishing vessel detained for poaching in waters off Layang Layang Island sank after a fire broke out on board while it was being escorted back to the island here.
All seven crew members on board the burning vessel, which was among three trawlers detained by the navy for poaching off Layang Layang Island, escaped unhurt in the incident on Saturday.
The crew members were rescued and transferred to the other two trawlers before they were brought back to the port here on the same day.
The other two trawlers were carrying 16 crew members.
The cause of fire is yet to be ascertained.
Navy personnel handed over the 23 crewmen to the Labuan Fisheries Department for illegally carrying out fishing activities in Malaysian waters.
The navys KD Puas commanding officer Lt Kdr Zakaria Mansur said two of the vessels were detected about 140km north-east off Layang Layang Island at about 2.45pm on Thursday.
The third trawler was intercepted near the same area at 6pm on Friday, he said.
Checks revealed that the trawlers did not have any permit to fish in Malaysian waters.
The navys Region Two commander Datuk Abdul Aziz Jaafar said encroachment by foreign fishing vessels in Malaysian waters near Layang Layang Island was common.
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