Nine people were saved and three missing after 12 people, including six Vietnamese smugglers, fell into water off southeast China coast Sunday, rescuers said.

A paddle boat with 12 people aboard capsized in the wee hours of Sunday as most of people gathered at the fore when approaching the dock of the Shekou port in Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong, the Shenzhen branch of South China Sea Salvage Bureau said in a statement.

Of the nine saved, five are Vietnamese and four are Chinese. Of the missing, one is known as a Vietnamese, the border police authorities in Shenzhen said.

The rescue operation is on-going.

The border police have launched an investigation into the case.

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