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(2nd LD) Nine dead, 2 missing in Pohang ship sinking

All Headlines 16:14 October 16, 2013
Searching for survivors

(2nd LD) Nine dead, 2 missing in Pohang ship sinking
(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; UPDATES with more information in 3, 5, 7-9 paras)

POHANG, South Korea, Oct. 16 (Yonhap) -- Nine foreign crewmembers were killed and two others remain missing after a Panamanian-registered cargo ship sank off the eastern coast of South Korea, the coast guard said Wednesday.

The 8,461-ton vessel "CHENG LUI 15" carrying 19 sailors -- 18 Chinese and one Vietnamese -- went down 900 meters off the southeastern port of Pohang around 3:40 p.m. Tuesday, the coast guard said.

Eight sailors were rescued, the coast guard said, adding that they are all Chinese nationals and are in relatively good condition.

"We have confirmed that eight sailors were rescued while huddling on the vessel and the bodies of nine crewmen were recovered from the nearby ocean," the coast guard said.

Due to rough seas, the rescue operation is very difficult, according to the coast guard. They added that they will continue the search for the two missing sailors, one of whom is a Chinese national who is the captain.

High waves are believed to have dragged the ship's anchor, causing the freighter to hit a sea wall, the coast guard said, adding that an investigation is needed to determine the exact cause of the ship's sinking.

Coast guard officials said they are also preparing for a possible oil spill as the vessel was carrying about 130 tons of bunker oil and diesel fuel.

"Some oil spilled from the vessel at the early stage of the accident but there is no more leak," the official said. "We believe that the oil tank has not been damaged."

The freighter set off from the Pyeongtaek port on Oct. 2 and arrived at Pohang two days later to unload its cargo, the coast guard said, adding that it was set to leave for Japan.

khj@yna.co.kr
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