Rescue teams searching for missing crew members from a Chinese engineering ship that sank over the weekend have saved a fourth person and recovered 12 bodies, Chinese maritime authorities said.

Officials said the crew member rescued by a Chinese navy ship on Monday is in stable condition. Three other members of the 30-person crew were rescued on Saturday.

The bodies were found about 50 nautical miles south-west of the area in which the vessel sank, according to authorities in the south-eastern province of Guangdong. Officials are attempting to identify the bodies.

The search for the remaining crew members is continuing.

A cargo ship broken in half in the South China Sea
A cargo ship broken in half in the South China Sea (Hong Kong Government Flying Service/AP)

The latest rescued crew member was part of a 30-strong crew on board the Fujing 001, a China-registered floating crane, that was involved in building several offshore wind farms.

It had been sheltering from tropical storm Chaba, but dragged its anchor and the anchor chain then broke, maritime authorities said.

The vessel snapped in two and sank on Saturday during the storm, which had maximum sustained wind speeds of 68 miles per hour and was upgraded to a typhoon before making landfall in Guangdong and Hong Kong.

The vessel sank about 180 miles south-west of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong authorities sent two fixed-wing aircraft and four helicopter to aid in the rescue, but said that chances of rescuing the other crew alive were “slim”.