updated 11/22/2007 9:50:50 PM ET 2007-11-23T02:50:50

A Philippine fishing boat capsized in the South China Sea, leaving 25 sailors missing, a Chinese maritime official said Friday.

Thirty sailors were rescued after the accident and search teams had been dispatched to the site, said a man at the China Maritime Search and Rescue Center who gave only his surname, Zhang.

The accident was under investigation, Zhang said, adding that he was too busy to give more details.

The state-run Xinhua News Agency said the boat sank in high winds near Zhongye Reef in the Nansha Islands, and that the rescue center received a report of the accident at 11:25 a.m. Thursday. Seven fishing boats from China's southern-most island province, Hainan, picked up 30 Philippine sailors from the water, Xinhua said, citing the center.

The Nansha Islands are also known as the Spratlys, a chain of islands, reefs and shoals believed to be rich in oil, gas and mineral wealth. The archipelago, which straddles busy sea lanes that are rich fishing grounds, are claimed in whole or part by China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

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