At least four people have died after a Chinese fishing vessel was about to sink in stormy seas about 50 kilometres off Rapa in the south of French Polynesia.
Four others are reported missing.
The French high commission says a rescue aircraft was dispatched after the ship, the Zun Yang 26, reported trouble.
It says the plane dropped floats which were meant to be accessed from the sinking ship.
However, nine of the 14 crew on board dived into the sea, with only one being saved but suffering from hypothermia.
The remaining five were lifted off the stricken vessel by a helicopter and taken to Rapa.
The exact cause of the disaster is not known but the area had experienced strong winds, which on Rapa ripped off roofs.