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11 crew of missing HK cargo ship rescued

11 crew of missing HK cargo ship rescued

Updated: 2012-04-05 20:57


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OSAKA - Eleven of the 17 crew members on board a Hong Kong cargo ship which lost contact in waters off southern Japan two days ago were rescued by patrol vessels of Japanese Coast Guard Thursday afternoon, Japan's public broadcaster Nippon Hoso Kyokai (NHK) reported.

The 4143-ton freighter, NEW LUCKY VII, with 17 crew members including three Chinese sailors and 14 Indonesian sailors on board stopped regular communication with its owner company on Tuesday in waters about 100 kilometers west off the Amami Oshima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture. The cargo ship carrying timber was sailing from Papua New Guinea to China.

The Japanese Coast Guard said its patrol plane found, at around 4:30 pm local time Thursday, nine crew members on a life raft afloat in the sea area, about 63 kilometers southwest apart from the position where the cargo ship lost contact, and one of the patrol vessels safely accommodated them by 6 pm.

Following the rescue operation, another patrol vessel also found two more sailors on a life boat floating in the nearby sea area and rescued them by 5 pm,the report said, adding that all of the rescued sailors had no major injuries.

Three Chinese sailors were among the rescued, the Japanese Coast Guard said, adding its patrol vessels were still searching the other 6 missing sailors.

The coast guard received a request for search operation from Hong Kong authorities at around 2:30 am local time Thursday and it reported in the afternoon its patrol vessels spotted large amount of oil afloat in the sea area where the ship lost contact with its owner company. The coast guard feared the ship had sunken.

There are some reports saying the Hong Kong registered ship belongs to a Taiwan company.

The marine weather condition was apparently very severe as an unusually strong low-pressure system developed over Japan during the past two days, the coast guard said.