SEOUL/YEOSU (Yonhap) -- Pyongyang asked "concerning parties" Saturday to rescue its sailors who have been missing since a cargo ship with 16 North Koreans aboard sank off the southwestern coast of South Korea the previous day.
The Mongolian-flagged 4,300-ton boat, named Grand Fortune 1, ran aground at around 1 a.m. on Friday, some 74 kilometers off the coast of Yeosu, South Jeolla Province.
Of the 16 crew members aboard the ship, all North Koreans, two were found dead and three were rescued on the day of accident, with 11 still missing.
In a Saturday report, the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency confirmed that the accident occurred in waters off South Korean coastline while it was en route to Shanghai, China.
It said the cause of the accident was under investigation.
"The DPRK hopes that the concerning parties will conduct rescue operations and help the survivors return to their families at an early date from the humanitarian point of view in accordance with the international usage," it said.
The DPRK is the acronym for North Korea's official name, Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
The KCNA said that the sailors aboard the boat are members of Kunhae Shipping Company under the Maritime Administration.
The South Korean Coast Guard continued thorough search operations for the missing sailors and the ship but failed to discover any trace of them due to the bad weather, officials said.
The Coast Guard has asked its Japanese counterpart to help in case the missing people have drifted to Japanese waters on sea currents.