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Chinese boat that resisted boarding operated illegally in EEZ: Coast Guard

All News 11:20 September 30, 2016

SEOUL, Sept. 30 (Yonhap) -- The Chinese fishing boat that caught fire while resisting a boarding party earlier this week was operating illegally in South Korea's exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the Coast Guard said Friday.

The fire, which broke out after Coast Guard officers boarded the boat Thursday, left three Chinese fishermen dead, with 14 others, including the captain, being rescued.

The Mokpo Coast Guard, in charge of the case, said the boat had no permit to fish in South Korea's EEZ. It said the crew members are being questioned on why they did not follow orders to stop.

The 102-ton Chinese vessel was sailing some 70 kilometers southwest of Hong Island, west of Mokpo, when the Coast Guard ordered it to stop for identification, but the boat tried to flee the area.

The Coast Guard said that when its officers did manage to board the boat, some members of the crew locked themselves into the steering house and engine room. These crewmen then continued to sail the boat with officers on board despite repeated orders to stop. When the orders were ignored, the officers threw non-lethal stun grenades into locked compartments to force the people out.

Authorities said they will try to determine what caused the fire. Local forensic experts will check the boat thoroughly to determine why it suddenly caught fire when it arrives in Mokpo.

Investigators also said they will seek autopsies of the deceased crew members to determine the exact cause of death.

The Coast Guard, meanwhile, confirmed the boat had illegally caught 2,200 kilograms of fish in South Korean waters.

A Chinese fishing boat catches fire on Sept. 29, 2016, in South Korean waters about 70 kilometers southwest of Hong Island near the southwestern city of Mokpo. (Yonhap)

colin@yna.co.kr
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