The Hong Kong-flagged cargo ship Jin Tian sank off southwestern Japan and efforts are underway to rescue the 22 crew members.
The vessel sank 110 kilometers west of the remote Danjo islands early morning Wednesday, part of Nagasaki prefecture, a Japan Coast Guard spokesperson said, confirming an earlier Kyodo News report. The coast guard received a distress call at 11:15 p.m. Tuesday, he said, adding the cause of the ship sinking was still unknown.
The incident, coming during an unusually frigid week in Japan, appears to be the worst since a cargo ship carrying almost 6,000 cattle sank in 2019 off the coast, leaving most of the crew of 39 missing at sea.
The Jin Tian crew consisted of 14 Chinese nationals and 8 from Myanmar, the Coast Guard said. they boarded emergency rafts at 2:40 in the morning, and the ship went under six minutes later, they added.
Kyodo News reported that four were rescued and 18 were still missing.
Three civilian ships — a Japanese research vessel, a Liberian tanker and Chinese cargo ship — are undertaking rescue efforts, maritime authorities said, adding that the Coast Guard and Japan Self-Defense Forces were en route.