Cargo ship sinks in the middle of the East Sea

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Cargo ship sinks in the middle of the East Sea

A 296-ton Cambodian cargo ship carrying fish sank in waters 548 kilometers (340.5 miles) northeast of Ulleung Island at 7:04 a.m. yesterday, killing three, including two Korean sailors, the Sokcho Coast Guard said.

According to the coast guard, all 12 sailors - three Koreans and nine Chinese - were rescued by two helicopters dispatched by the Japanese Maritime Self-defense Force at 2:06 p.m., after patrol planes dispatched by Japan’s Maritime Safety Agency found them trying to save themselves with lifeboats.

The coast guard said all the sailors were sent to Niigata Air Force Base, but three of them, 66-year-old chief mate Moo Jun-hyun, chief engineer Gwak Byung-hyeok, as well as a 51-year-old Chinese sailor, died after being unconscious for hours as of press time yesterday. The Sokcho coast guard assume that the ship was hit by high waves and the sailors died from hypothermia.

The Korean coast guard said they dispatched four planes, including the Challenger, a patrol plane, as well as four patrol ships after the ship requested rescue via satellite phone.

The Japanese maritime safety agency also dispatched two patrol ships and two patrol planes to help search for the sailors.

The coast guard said the ship left Aomori Port in Japan at 2 p.m. on Tuesday and was supposed to arrive at Sokcho Port today with 55 tons of scallops.

“The Japanese arrived at the scene first as the accident scene was closer to Japan,” a spokesman of the Sokcho Coast Guard in Gangwon said.

“Fortunately, the sailors were rescued as the Japanese agencies swiftly reacted to the rescue request.”

By Lee Chan-ho, Kwon Sang-soo []

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