Captain of Norwegian ship which sank off Vietnam coast confirmed dead
Captain of Norwegian ship that sank off Vietnam coast confirmed deadReuters file photo

The captain and vice captain of the Norwegian cargo vessel which sank off the southern Vietnamese coast have been confirmed dead by authorities.

Vietnamese officials have recovered the bodies of the victims – captain Ronel Acueza Andrin and vice captain Jerome Maquilang Dincy – and they are being brought to the Ba Ria Vung Tau province.

The 56,000-tonne cargo ship, the Bulk Jupiter, was carrying 19 Filipino crew members as it went down en route to China from Malaysia. Only one of them, the ship's cook, is believed to have survived so far. The remaining crew members are still missing.

According to the Associated Press, which cited an anonymous official, a survivor named Angelito Rojas initially was not willing to speak to authorities making the rescue operations more difficult.

Later, he was quoted as saying: "I don't understand why the ship had the accident and sank. I just knew that the ship, which was on its way, suddenly tilted. I just had time to put on a life vest and jump into the sea."

The vessel's distress signal was picked up by Japanese coast guards, when it was travelling 155 nautical miles off Vietnam, said the ship's operator Gearbulk. The ship is thought to have been carrying a cargo of bauxite.

Rescue operations have also been hampered due to bad weather.