Chinese trawler capsizes, 1 fatality

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Chinese trawler capsizes, 1 fatality


Korea Coast Guard rescue workers approach yesterday a 62-ton Chinese trawler that was illegally fishing in Korean waters and capsized after a collision with a patrol ship 72 miles from Eocheong Island, Gunsan, North Jeolla. [YONHAP]

A Chinese trawler illegally fishing in South Korean waters collided with a Coast Guard patrol boat yesterday, capsizing 72 miles from Eocheong Island, North Jeolla. One Chinese fisherman was killed in the accident.

When two Korean patrol ships approached the trawler at 1:00 p.m. Saturday and tried boarding it, the Chinese crew started swinging iron pipes, shovels and clubs, injuring four Korean maritime policemen.

Then the 62-ton Chinese boat bumped into a 3,000-ton patrol ship and capsized, causing 10 Chinese sailors to fall into the sea. Eight of the crew were rescued but the boat’s 28-year-old captain died at a hospital after going into a coma. One Chinese crew member is still missing.

The four Korean sailors were treated at Gunsan Medical Center at Wonkwang University Hospital.

“It was life-threatening when the Chinese sailors brandished their weapons,” said Mun Sang-su, a maritime policeman whose arm was fractured in the scuffle.

The Korea Coast Guard sent six patrol ships, two helicopters and 200 officers to find the missing crew member but failed.

The Gunsan Coast Guard said there were about 50 Chinese trawlers in the area when they intercepted the boat, but the rest fled the scene. The Coast Guard said that Chinese ships cross the maritime border with Korea and fish illegally, but this was the first time a collision occurred with a Korean patrol boat.

“Chinese fishing boats have a tendency to protest [against Korean patrol ships] in groups,” said Kim Seong-gi, a director at the Gunsan Coast Guard. “To prevent further attacks, we will take stern measures against illegal Chinese trawlers.”

The Coast Guard said it will dispatch 18 patrol boats and two helicopters to crackdown on illegal fishing starting tomorrow.

From January to December, roughly 330 Chinese trawlers were boarded by Korean patrols for illegal fishing. About 380 boats from China were caught in 2009.

By Kim Hee-jin []
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