A South Korean coast guard vessel conducts a search operation in waters between South Korea and Japan, Wednesday for crew members of a cargo ship that sank early Wednesday. Photo: The Korea Coast Guard via AP

Cargo ship sinks between S Korea and Japan; 2 crew dead; 8 missing


Ships searching in wind-whipped waters between South Korea and Japan have picked up at least 14 of the 22 crew members from a cargo vessel that sank early Wednesday, killing at least two, officials said.

South Korean officials said nine of those rescued remain unconscious, but they did not immediately confirm any deaths. Ten crew members were later airlifted to Nagasaki in southern Japan for treatment, but two of them were confirmed dead on arrival, Japanese officials said.

South Korean and Japanese coast guard vessels and aircraft as well as two commercial cargo ships were continuing to search for the eight missing crew members but the efforts were being slowed by strong winds and waves, South Korean officials said.

The Japanese coast guard confirmed the rescue of at least 13 crew members and said five of them - all Chinese nationals - were still alive.

The 6,551-ton Jin Tian sank about 3 1/2 hours after it sent a distress call at around 11:15 p.m. Tuesday in Japan's exclusive economic zone, Japanese coast guard spokesperson Shinya Kitahara said.

The vessel, which was Hong Kong registered and carrying lumber, sank about 160 kilometers (100 miles) southwest of Nagasaki, Japan, and about 150 kilometers south of South Korea's Jeju island.

The captain last communicated with the coast guard through a satellite phone around 2:41 a.m., saying the crew would abandon the ship, minutes before it sank, Jeju island coast guard officials said.

Six crew members were picked up by South Korean coast guard vessels, while a cargo ship picked up five and Japanese aircraft picked up three, according to Jeju's coast guard.

Officials said 14 crew members are Chinese and eight are from Myanmar. According to maritime transport websites, the vessel left Malaysia's Port Klang on Dec 3 and was headed for South Korea's Incheon port.

The ship is owned by Long Bright Shipping Limited, a Hong Kong-registered company that is a subsidiary of Shenzhen Shekou Shipping Transportation Co Ltd, according to a July 2022 filing made by the parent company to China's National Equities Exchange and Quotations. The filing says the Jin Tian was used as collateral for a loan that was later repaid.

Calls to a number listed for Shenzhen Shekou Shipping Transportation in mainland China went unanswered on Wednesday during the weeklong Lunar New Year holiday.

South Korean officials didn't immediately say whether the nine who were unconscious were likely to survive. They said the five other crew members who were rescued were either conscious when found or regained consciousness.

Kitahara said the cause of the ship's sinking was not immediately known and there were no signs that it collided with another vessel. He said the arrivals of Japanese patrol boats and aircraft were delayed by difficult weather.

Officials at Jeju's coast guard said a strong wind warning was issued for the area earlier on Wednesday but was later lifted. Winds were blowing at around 56 kilometers per hour, creating waves 3-4 meters high.

The Japanese coast guard said the water in the area remained rough with a temperature of 14 degrees Celsius.

AP writer Zen Soo in Singapore contributed to the report.

© 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2023 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment


Read the article again...

13 ( +13 / -0 )

Sad news report. Cheers to all involved in rescue attempts; may lives be saved and the rescuers be safe.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Terrible time to go into the freezing sea.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Hope they find them all. Very dangerous job.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Thoughts are with them.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

No chance in cold water, hope the made it to a lifeboat

3 ( +6 / -3 )

'O hear us when we cry to Thee,

For those in peril on the sea.'

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I was involved in a boating accident once, on a small boat with an outboard that refused to start after the current took us to a reef about 3-4 km off shore and capsized the boat. We were very lucky a large game fishing boat saw it unfold and swooped in and got us behind the reef. The waves were huge! Horrible experience I wish on nobody no even Putin! Carefull on those small boats.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

8 missing people is very bad news, cold water is deadly. Wondering to know if there was training and equipment for all the 22 crew members, not so many, there should be life boats for all, with basic survival equipment, but, it does not seems to be the case, unfortunately... How to avoid such tragedy?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Man, this was very bad timing with the massive cold front and heavy winds. It's freezing out there. My heart goes out to those missing and the ones that didn't make it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

How to avoid such tragedy?

You can't. Just mitigate the risks as best you can.

Makes you really admire the stones the early explorers had with no modern technology.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Another cargo ship is currently aground on a coral reef just offshore from Ishigaki.


0 ( +0 / -0 )

How did south korean boats rescue people before Japan's rescue boats in Japanese waters?

Read it again, read it!!!!.... Lol..

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Tragic news, I hope the rest of the crew could be rescued..

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Your life value as a crew member on a chinese run ship = 0

0 ( +1 / -1 )

How to avoid such tragedy?

You can't. Just mitigate the risks as best you can.

These mishaps are all, 100%, avoidable. When you study the mishap reports for these mishaps you find there are always five of six different things the captain, crew and ship owner failed to do or to do correctly that, had they been done right, the ship would not have capsized. People are lazy and make the same mistakes repeatedly. As we used to say in aviation, there are no new mishaps, just new victims.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

How did south korean boats rescue people before Japan's rescue boats in Japanese waters?

-14 ( +1 / -15 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites