Fishing boat blaze kills 5 Indonesians, 1 Korean

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Fishing boat blaze kills 5 Indonesians, 1 Korean

A fishing boat caught fire in the waters off Jeju Island on Monday, leaving one Korean and five Indonesian crew members dead.

Another Korean man has been reported missing since the vessel sank in the wake of the blaze.

The police are investigating the cause of the fire and have dispatched patrol vessels to find him. The Korean Coast Guard spotted the 38-ton vessel emitting flames and thick black smoke some 108 kilometers (67 miles) southwest of Chagui Island, off Jeju, at 4:55 a.m.

Authorities said the fire broke out around 1 a.m.

There were a total of four Koreans and five Indonesians on board. Two Koreans, including the 37-year-old captain, surnamed Kim, were rescued and transferred to a hospital on Jeju Island.

The Coast Guard noted that the fishing boat is made of fibre-reinforced plastic (FRP), which hampered efforts to quench the fire. The material is vulnerable to fire compared to other substances like aluminum.

“FRP often catches fire and has low fire resistance compared to other materials,” a Coast Guard official said. “That’s why we found it hard to get the fire under control.”

The ship reported its departure on March 21 and was expected to arrive back to Jeju on April 5.

BY PARK EUN-JEE [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]


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