Boat fire leaves two dead, 4 missing

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Boat fire leaves two dead, 4 missing

Two people were killed and four remained missing on Tuesday after a fishing boat caught fire off the coast of Dokdo, Korea’s easternmost islets.

The cause of the accident is still under investigation, authorities said.

The fire occurred at 4:40 a.m., and Donghae Coast Guard received the emergency call at 5:15 a.m.

The 29-ton fishing boat, the Munseong 103, was sailing 9 kilometers (5.5 miles) northeast of the islets, an official from the Donghae Coast Guard said. The vessel was carrying eight Korean and two Vietnamese crew members.

Six crew members including the captain, surnamed Kim, were rescued at the scene, though two, surnamed Cha and Son, were reported dead soon after.

Four other crew members - two Koreans and two Vietnamese - remain unaccounted for as of press time Tuesday.

The Munseong 103 set out to sea on Nov. 16 from Jeju Island, the nation’s largest island located off the southwest coast. The fishing boat was scheduled to come in to Hupo Harbor in North Gyeongsang on Jan. 3.

The boat usually catches cutlass fish in the Jeju Island area.

But from November to February, it expanded its route to Dokdo and Ulleungdo, 120 kilometers (75 miles) east of the Korean Peninsula, to catch blowfish.

The fishing boat was moving to Ulleungdo after fishing near the site where the accident occurred.

“It is believed that the fire started in the engine room,” said an official from the Donghae Coast Guard. “But we are investigating to determine the exact cause.”

Some of the crew members’ families rushed to the scene of the accident in the East Sea after hearing the reports, according to Munseong Fisheries.

Coast Guard vessels, aircraft and private fishing boats have cooperated in the search for the missing crew members, an official from the Donghae Coast Guard said. The emergency task force was organized in Seogwipo, Jeju Island.

BY PARK YUNA [ypc3c@joongang.co.kr]




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