COLOMBO : An appreciation reception for the Sri Lanka’s search and rescue mission of the capsized Chinese fishing ship “Lu Peng Yuan Yu 028” was held at the Shangri-La Hotel Colombo by Qi Zhenhong, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Sri Lanka on Tuesday, June 26.
About 300 guests including Sagala Rathnayake, Chief of Staff and Senior Adviser on National Security to the President, Hon. Dr. Bandula Gunawardana, Minister of Transport and Highways, Minister of Mass Media and Co-spokesperson of Cabinet, Tharaka Balasuriya, State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dewi Gustina Tobing, Ambassador of Indonesia , Paul Stephens, Australian High Commissioner General Shavendra Silva, Chief of Defense Staff, Vice Admiral Priyantha Perera, Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy, and all the officers and sailors of the Sri Lanka Navy ship Vijayabahu P627 were presented at the reception.
Ambassador Zhenhong thanked President Ranil Wickremesinghe for his decisive and timely decision to provide full assistance; appreciated the Ministry of Defense of Sri Lanka, the tri-forces, and all the officers and sailors of Sri Lanka Navy ship Vijayabahu for immediately responding to the order and coming to their aid despite the long distance.
The Chinese envoy specially paid most sincere appreciation and highest tribute to the nine brave divers, as well as all the countries and agencies involved in the search and rescue operation for their timely help. “This is not only a joint action to fulfill international obligations, but also a glorious mission to demonstrate the spirit of international humanitarianism.”, said Ambassador Qi, “The Chinese government, the Chinese people and all the families of the crew members of the fishing boat will always remember this special friendship.”
Ambassador Qi further stressed that the ruthless sea only highlights the compassion of humanity. “Through this search and rescue operation, we once again feel the fraternal friendship of the government, the people, and the military of Sri Lanka towards China. We also feel deeply that every country and nation belongs to the global village where we share weal and woe. At a time when global risks and challenges keep emerging, solidarity and cooperation is the only right way forward. Let us join hands to build a community with a shared future for mankind!”
Vice Admiral Priyantha Perera, Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy, said that when the divers tried to enter the crew cabin area, it was just like a turbulence inside a washing machine. The gushing water made the access impossible. Commander Perera specially mentioned that this mission was very special because of the international joint efforts.
Nine (09) heroic divers who participated in the salvage opereation——Lieutenant Commander S.A.I.A Subhasinghe, Petty Officer K.P.A. Arunajith, Petty Officer E.M.D.A. Ekanayaka, Petty Officer D.D.N. Jayathissa, Leading Seaman H.D. Darshana, Leading Seaman N.M.C.L. Narayana, Able Seaman W.W.N.C. Sandaruwan, Able Seaman I.D.L.M. Dissanayaka, and Able Seaman R.S. Kumarage were invited to the center of the stage where they were presented with flowers by Chinese diplomats and received tribute by all participants.
Before the reception, a minute of silence for the victims of the tragedy was observed and a special video clip presented by the Sri Lankan Navy to introduce the heroic rescue mission was played.
The Chinese fishing boat “Lu Peng Yuan Yu 028” tragically capsized at the central part of the Indian Ocean on May 16, with 39 Chinese, Indonesian and Filipino crew members on board missing. China, together with Sri Lanka, Australia, India, Maldives, Indonesia, the Philippines and other countries had then carried out a joint search and rescue, which covered a total area of nearly 20,000 square nautical miles and the maximum possible drift region of people in distress. Sri Lankan immediately sent Navy ship Vijayabahu and a diving team to the accident site, which was more than 800 nautical miles away. The Sri Lankan divers were the first to dive into the water and enter the hull at the risk of their lives.
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