Cargo ship capsizes off Japan’s coast with 22 aboard

A cargo ship with 22 people aboard sank off Nagasaki Prefecture in southwestern Japan early Wednesday, with 13 crew members rescued following a distress call by the vessel issued the previous night, the coast guard said.

Currently, patrol boats and aircraft are searching for the remaining nine crew members of the Hong Kong-registered vessel in the hope that they may be adrift on lifeboats, but their efforts are being hindered by strong winds and rough seas.

The 6,551-ton Jintian made the distress call at around 11:15 p.m. from about 110 kilometers west of the Danjo Islands in the East China Sea. A gale warning was issued when the distress signal was made.

The ship and its 22 crew members — consisting of 14 Chinese and eight Myanmar nationals — were en route to Incheon, South Korea, carrying wood and other goods.

Five of the Chinese crew members were rescued by a private vessel that was sailing nearby, and all of them were well enough to communicate at the time. The vessel alerted the coast guard that the crew had been able to transfer to lifeboats before the ship sank.

Eight others were rescued by Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force and the South Korean coast guard, which joined the Japanese coast guard and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force in rescue efforts. The incident took place outside Japan’s territorial waters.

The crew of the Jintian had earlier contacted the coast guard via a satellite phone saying their ship had “tilted and (the boat) is flooding.”

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