Stranded naval frigate refloated: Chinese embassy

A Chinese naval frigate that ran aground close to Philippine shores while patrolling disputed waters in the South China Sea was refloated on Sunday, the Chinese embassy said.

The stranding occurred Wednesday in a shoal which sits just 60 nautical miles from the western Philippine island of Palawan, within the country's exclusive economic zone, in an area believed to be rich in mineral deposits.

"The grounded frigate near Nansha's Half Moon Shoal was refloated successfully, with minor damage in the stem part," the embassy said in a statement posted on its website.

International law defines a country's exclusive economic zone as being up to 200-nautical-miles from its shores.

The statement said China's defence ministry reported that the ship was refloated before daybreak Sunday, and that all its personnel were safe.

"Now the preparation for return to the port is underway. No contamination has been caused in the incident area," it said.

The ship was on "routine patrol" when it became stranded Wednesday evening, according to the Chinese government.

The shoal, locally called Hasa Hasa, is part of the the Spratly Islands -- which the Chinese call Nansha -- a string of atolls and islands straddling vital shipping lanes in the South China Sea believed sitting atop vast mineral deposits.

Apart from the Philippines and China, the Spratlys are claimed in whole or in part by rival Taiwan and the other Southeast Asian countries of Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Overlapping claims to the islands have perennially caused tensions among the claimants, with the Philippines and Vietnam recently accusing China of increasingly becoming aggressive in staking its claims.

The dispute also marred an annual meeting of Southeast Asian foreign ministers held in Cambodia last week, where Manila's chief diplomat accused China of "duplicity" and intimidation.

The dispute divided the grouping, with host Cambodia siding with China, thus preventing them from issuing a customary joint statement that summarises achievements and concerns.

  • How a mom stole a car in under 60 seconds 6 hours ago
    How a mom stole a car in under 60 seconds

    “I didn't steal your car but I think my mom may have. It's a long story. I'll explain, but your car is safe and sound," read the flier posted in Red Hook, Brooklyn. It’s a strange tale that began when Cheyrl Thorpe was asked by her daughter Nekisia Davis to dog sit her Pomeranian at her apartment, according to New York Magazine.

  • All-new 2015 Subaru Outback reestablishes higher ground 8 hours ago
    All-new 2015 Subaru Outback reestablishes higher ground

    Much of Subaru’s modern day success in America can be attributed to one car: the Outback. Born in 1994 as a response to the growing popularity of SUVs, the Outback established a winning formula of combining a high-riding suspension, butch body cladding and big round fog lights to its comfortable, no-nonsense Legacy wagon. It is the kind of unique product that only a quirky company like Subaru could build, and was one that kept Subaru from slipping into ubiquity even as traditional SUVs and crossovers have taken over the world.

  • Custom faux-tique electric tram aims to replace New York's horses over the neigh-sayers 9 hours ago
    Custom faux-tique electric tram aims to replace New York's horses over the neigh-sayers

    For the record, it's the year 2014. I mention that in case someone reading this story about a push to replace horses with motorized carriages thinks they've stumbled onto some archival piece by accident. It's been more than 100 years since the first vehicles began to trundle around Manhattan, but the last remaining vestiges of horse-powered transport in the city could be nigh — if the backers of a massive electric wagon get their way.

  • Singaporeans slam NEA's $120 licence requirement for tissue sellers
    Singaporeans slam NEA's $120 licence requirement for tissue sellers

    Singaporeans on social media reacted angrily to news that tissue sellers at hawker centres and street corners are being required to pay for an annual licence.

  • ‘Huge’ Hindu, Buddhist statues against Islam, ex-judge says
    ‘Huge’ Hindu, Buddhist statues against Islam, ex-judge says

    KUALA LUMPUR, April 16 — The “huge” statues at a Hindu temple in Batu Caves and Buddhist temple in Penang are an affront to Islam as the religion forbids idolatry, a retired Court of Appeals judge...

  • Heartbreaking texts from students on sinking S. Korea ferry
    Heartbreaking texts from students on sinking S. Korea ferry

    Heart-wrenching messages of fear, love and despair, sent by high school students from a sinking South Korean ferry, added extra emotional weight Thursday to a tragedy that has stunned the nation. Nearly 300 people -- most of them students on a high school trip to a holiday island -- are still missing after the ferry capsized and sank on Wednesday morning. Mom, I love you," student Shin Young-Jin said in a text to his mother that was widely circulated in the South Korean media.