Thousands of South Vietnamese refugees travelling in a flotilla of barges were sighted in the South China Sea on Sunday (4 May), while in Hong Kong another group has landed.
GV PULL TO LV Vietnamese destroyer
GV PAN Refugees in boats arriving near destroyer
LV Officials on destroyer watch refugees (2 shots)
GV & SV Vietnamese ship "Chen Thong" arrives (2 shots)
GV PAN SQS flag on ship (2 shots)
GV Emergency rations handed over to refugees in boats
LV Ship with barges around it
GV Danish ship "Clara Maesk" enters Hong Kong harbour
SV & GV Refugees on board (2 shots)
SV PULL BACK TO GV Ship docking
GV Refugees clapping on board ship as ship docks
GV & SV Injured refugees taken away on stretchers (3 shots)
SV PULL OUT TO GV Stretchers placed on ground; doctors treating sick (2 shots)
TRANSCRIPT: "A Vietnamese destroyer signalled the arrival of an unannounced and unexpected addition to the Seventh Fleet. After searching the sea for days the remnant of the Vietnamese navy flying their own flag came over the horizon. In a panic to clamour any high ships, thousands of parched and desperate refugees who left Saigon in barges headed towards the destroyer. But the Vietnamese officer shouted they were already overloaded with their own families and turned them away. The Vietnamese navy fleet of about thirty gunboats had more than twenty thousand on board. Every hour more boatloads of refugees arrived.
"The Chen Thong" had been at sea for four days, crammed with Vietnamese shielding themselves from the blistering sun with blankets. Food and water were put on board. And the Chen thong skipper said he'd attempt the eight-hundred-mile crossing to the Philippines on his own. A Vietnamese lieutenant flying on SOS on a landing craft came alongside and he was given emergency rations for the barges to tide them over until they could be lifted onto larger freighters for the long voyage.
"Before dark the Danish freighter "Clara Maersk" steamed into Hong Harbour with her cargo of four thousand six hundred refugees. They'd been picked up on Friday night from a small Vietnamese vessel which was sinking. They left Saigon on Wednesday, hours after the final collapse of the South Vietnamese government. A Royal Navy ship had gone out last night to meet the freighter carrying a hundred and fifty tons of water, seven tons of food and two Navy medical teams. The refugees were evidently relieved to have reached the safe harbour.
"Many of those aboard were ill or injured. Everybody was taken straight to hospital for health checks. Then most were moved into three former British army camps. The Hong Kong Government has said that as victims of a disaster at sea they must be accommodated and helped, but temporarily appeals have been made to other governments to give them a permanent home."
Initials BB/0205 FC/PN/BB/0235
This film includes commentaries by BBC reporters Paul Whitfield and Bob Kiersley which are transcribed overleaf.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Thousands of South Vietnamese refugees travelling in a flotilla of barges were sighted in the South China Sea on Sunday (4 May), while in Hong Kong another group has landed.
The refugees -- parched and desperate -- tried to clamour aboard a Vietnamese destroyer which already has more than 20, 000 on board.
One of the bigger boats, "Chen Thong", has been at sea for four days and her skipper said he would attempt the 800-mile crossing to the Philippines on his own.
In Hong Kong, a Danish freighter, the "Clara Maersk", sailed into the harbour with 4, 600 people. They were picked on Friday night from a small South Vietnamese vessel which was sinking.
The fate of this batch of refugees is to be decided. Hong Kong Government officials said they had consulted the United States authorities on their future.