(ATTN: UPDATES with reported death toll; CHANGES headline)
SEOGWIPO, South Korea/TOKYO, Jan. 25 (Yonhap) — Two crew were confirmed dead and eight others were missing after their Hong Kong-registered cargo ship carrying 22 crew members sank off the southern island of Jeju on Wednesday, according to the Coast Guard and a media report.
Fourteen Chinese and eight Myanmarese crew members were aboard the Jin Tian, a 6,551-ton, wood-carrying ship, when it sent out a distress signal at 3:07 a.m. in international waters 148.2 kilometers southeast of the city of Seogwipo on Jeju, the Korean Coast Guard said.
Japan’s Kyodo News Agency, citing Japanese authorities, reported that two of the crewmembers who were recovered and confirmed dead.
According to the Korean Coast Guard, fourteen of the crew members were recovered by ships that were sailing by and other rescuers, but nine of them were unconscious, officials said.
Those recovered were transported to the Japanese city of Nagasaki, the officials said.
The Coast Guard is conducting a joint search and rescue operation with their Japanese counterparts for the eight others with the deployment of five patrol ships and four aircrafts from both sides.
The Coast Guard said the ship appears to have gone down when it sent the distress signal via the emergency position indicating radio beacon, an emergency locator system.
It was found the vessel transmitted its first distress signal via the Digital Selective Calling system at 1:45 a.m. In the last satellite phone call with the Coast Guard about an hour later, the ship’s captain said they would abandon the vessel and all crew members would go off board, officials said.