Three Chinese crew members have died after being found unconscious in a cargo hold of a bulker off Taiwan.

CNA cited local authorities as saying the seafarers were pronounced dead on Wednesday after medical teams attended the 85,000-dwt MSXT Echo (built 2021) off Hualien.

Hualien prosecutors said the 230-metre, Liberia-flagged ship, with a crew of about 20, had last called in Singapore and was due to berth at Hoping port on Sunday.

The crew raised the alarm at 2000 hours local time.

Taiwan’s coastguard, a local fire department and the National Airborne Service Corps attended the scene.

The men were airlifted to shore and taken to hospital, the prosecutor’s office said.

They were identified only by their surnames: Yao, 54; Lee, 33; and Liu, 27.

The vessel has been told to wait outside Hualien before it can dock.

Coastguard officials were due to board the ship to confirm the number of people on board and seal off the hold where the trio was found.

Forensic experts will also board the vessel to begin an investigation.

Toxic gas a possible cause

Post-mortem examinations will be carried out.

Taiwanese media has reported the men are believed to have inhaled toxic gas.

The ship is operated by China Minsheng Trust of Beijing.

The vessel has no port state control detentions from two checks in 2022 and 2023.

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