SEOUL, South Korea (HPD) — Rescue boats pulled 14 of the 22 crew members of a cargo ship that sank early Wednesday morning from windswept waters between South Korea and Japan, while at least two deaths.
Nine of those rescued remained unconscious, according to South Korean authorities, who did not immediately confirm any deaths. Subsequently, 10 crew members were transferred by air to Nagasaki, in southern Japan, but two of them were confirmed dead upon arrival.
Coast guard ships and planes from both countries, as well as two commercial vessels, were still searching for the eight missing crew members, but the operation was being slowed down by strong winds and waves, South Korean officials said.
The Japan Coast Guard confirmed the rescue of at least 13 crew members and said five of them, all Chinese nationals, were alive.
The Jin Tian, a 6,551-tonne ship, sank about three and a half hours after sending out a distress call at around 11:15 p.m. Tuesday in Japan’s exclusive economic zone, the country’s coast guard spokesman Shinya said. Kitahara.
The Hong Kong-flagged vessel carrying timber capsized about 160 kilometers (100 miles) southwest of Nagasaki, Japan, and about 150 kilometers (93 miles) south of the South Korean island of Jeju.
The captain’s last communication with the coast guard via satellite phone was at around 2:41 a.m., when he said the crew would abandon the ship, minutes before it sank, according to coast guard officials in Jeju.
Six of the crew were picked up by the South Korean coast guard, while a freighter pulled five from the sea and a Japanese plane pulled three, Jeju authorities added.
According to South Korean and Japanese officials, 14 of the crew are Chinese and the remaining eight are from Myanmar. According to shipping websites, the ship left the Malaysian port of Klang on December 3 and was heading to Incheon, South Korea.
The vessel is owned by Long Bright Shipping Limited, a Hong Kong-registered company that is a subsidiary of Shenzhen Shekou Shipping Transportation Co. Ltd., according to the parent company’s July 2022 statement to the National Stock and Exchange Exchange. from China. According to that document, the Jin Tian was used as collateral for a loan that was repaid later.
Calls to the Shenzhen Shekou Shipping Transportation phone number in mainland China went unanswered on Wednesday, during the Lunar New Year holiday week.
South Korean authorities did not immediately say whether the nine unconscious people were likely to survive their injuries, if not already dead, saying the other five were conscious when they were found or later regained consciousness.
The Japanese coast guard indicated that the sea was still rough and that its temperature was around 14 degrees Celsius (about 57 degrees Fahrenheit).
Yamaguchi reported from Tokyo. Associated Press writer Zen Soo in Singapore contributed to this report.