Officials were at first bewildered when they came upon a mysterious ghost ship with no captain or crew on board that had washed ashore on a secluded island off the coast of Cambodia during an intense storm this week.
Three life jackets from the wreckage were spotted about 160 feet away from where the rusted, old shipping vessel ran aground on the rocky beach of Koh Tang Island Tuesday evening, officials told Cambodia News English.
Authorities with the Koh Tang Observation Force inspected the shipwreck and quickly scoured the shoreline for any signs of the ship's occupants the following morning, but to no avail, an official with the Maritime Security Observatory told CNE.
It was only days later, however, that authorities found four Chinese sailors who had reportedly abandoned the ship -- named the Seng Kang -- in the rough seas, jumped overboard and somehow managed to swim to the island in rough waters, CNE reported. The strong winds and waves from the storm drifted the ship ashore.
The four, including the captain of the vessel, were taken in for questioning.
The choppy waters and blustery conditions had prompted the country's Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology to issue a weather warning earlier in the week to fishermen and tour boat operators. Provincial officials followed suit by ordering a ban on all trips to Koh Tang and the other coastal islands from July 11-14.
The rough seas prevented officials from boarding the ship to investigate further until Thursday, when staff from the Observation Force managed to gain access once the waters calmed.
"At first, we were not able to get close enough to the ship to check its markings. There was no sign of which country it came from," local official Sopheap San told CNE.
The secluded Koh Tang Island located about 30 miles off the coast of Cambodia in the Gulf of Thailand is best known as the site of the last battle of the Vietnam War in May 1975, two weeks after the fall of Saigon.