One sailor dead, two others saved from capsized boat in sea between South Korea and Japan

SEOUL (THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - One of nine crew members of a fishing boat that capsized in the East Sea/Sea of Japan on Wednesday (Oct 20) has been found dead, and two rescued, police said on Thursday.

On Thursday morning, the Coast Guard dispatched 14 divers to search the overturned vessel. In the process, one crew member was found dead in the wheelhouse of the boat. The police are still working to identify the deceased.

Two Chinese sailors were rescued by a civilian fishing boat near the site of the accident. They were believed to have been holding on to anchored buoys for 15 hours without life vests. The Coast Guard used a helicopter to transfer them to a medical centre.

A day earlier, the 65 metric tonne vessel carrying nine crew overturned about 168km from the Dokdo/Takeshima islands. Sailors of a merchant ship passing by found it and reported it to the eighth district of Japan. The point of the accident is between South Korea and Japan.

Immediately after receiving the report, the Japan Coast Guard sent a ship, PL-91, to the accident site. It also notified the South Korean Coast Guard at around 2.24pm.

The overturned boat was a fishing vessel built in 1995, and at the time of the accident, three South Koreans - the captain, the engineer and the deck leader - and six foreign sailors - four Chinese and two Indonesians - were on board.

The accident is reported to have occurred while the ship was making its way to fish red crab.

The Coast Guard immediately dispatched 5,000-ton and 1,500-ton patrol ships as well as helicopters to the site. The dispatched ships arrived at the accident area at night.

As the day dawned, four ships from the Coast Guard and the Navy, three helicopters and two aircraft, as well as civilian fishing boats and fishing guidance ships, were being deployed to expand the search.

But the search has been made difficult by the weather. A storm has brought with it waves as high as 3m to 4m.

Police also requested cooperation from local governments, the fire authorities and related agencies on the rescue.

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum on Wednesday instructed the ministers of maritime affairs and fisheries and national defence as well as the head of the Coast Guard to do their best to save lives and ensure the safety of the rescue teams.

He also ordered the Foreign Affairs minister to make all diplomatic efforts to encourage neighbouring countries such as Japan and Russia to help save lives.