Cargo vessel sinks between Japan and South Korea, rescue crews pick up 14 of the 22 crew members.
Ships searching in wind-whipped waters between South Korea and Japan have picked up at least 14 of the 22 crew members from a cargo vessel that sank early Wednesday, killing at least two, officials said.
South Korean officials said nine of those rescued remain unconscious, but they did not immediately confirm any deaths. Ten crew members were later airlifted to Nagasaki in southern Japan for treatment, but two of them were confirmed dead on arrival, Japanese officials said.
South Korean and Japanese coast guard vessels and aircraft as well as two commercial cargo ships were continuing to search for the eight missing crew members but the efforts were being slowed by strong winds and waves, South Korean officials said.
The 6,551-ton Jin Tian sank about 3 1/2 hours after it sent a distress call at around 11:15 p.m. Tuesday in Japan’s exclusive economic zone, Japanese coast guard spokesperson Shinya Kitahara said.
The vessel, which was Hong Kong registered and carrying lumber, sank about 100 miles southwest of Nagasaki, Japan, and about 93 miles south of South Korea’s Jeju island.
The captain last communicated with the coast guard through a satellite phone around 2:41 a.m., saying the crew would abandon the ship, minutes before it sank, Jeju island coast guard officials said.
A South Korean coast guard vessel conducts a search operation in waters between South Korea and Japan on Jan. 25, 2023. The two countrys coast guards were searching for crew members of a cargo ship that sank in waters between South Korea and Japan. (The Korea Coast Guard via AP)
Six crew members were picked up by South Korean coast guard vessels, while a cargo ship picked up five and Japanese aircraft picked up three, according to Jeju’s coast guard.
Officials said 14 crew members are Chinese and eight are from Myanmar. According to maritime transport websites, the vessel left Malaysia’s Port Klang on Dec. 3 and was headed for South Korea’s Incheon port.
The ship 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 a July 2022 filing made by the parent company to China’s National Equities Exchange and Quotations. The filing says the Jin Tian was used as collateral for a loan that was later repaid.