A Mongolian-registered freighter sank off the southern coast of South Korea, leaving two North Korean crew members dead and 11 missing, maritime authorities said Friday.
The 4,300-ton Grand Fortune 1 sent a rescue signal at 1:19 a.m. about 34 kilometers off the southern port city of Yeosu, South Jeolla Province, the Coast Guard said. The ship, with 16 North Koreans on board, was en route to Shanghai, China, from North Korea’s eastern city of Chongjin.
Three were rescued in the early morning and brought to a hospital on Jejudo Island, the authorities said.
The cause of the accident was not confirmed by Friday afternoon, but the rescued crew members told the maritime officials that the ship began sinking after listing toward the right.
Dozens of maritime vessels and helicopters were dispatched to search for the rest of the crew members. The Coast Guard also requested search support from Japanese authorities as the accident happened in international waters 43 kilometers off the South Korean sea.
South Korea’s Unification Ministry said it is discussing how to repatriate the rescued crew members and the bodies of those who drowned.