SHIPPING

One Chinese crew dead, eight missing after ships collide near Tokyo

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 March, 2014, 8:41am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 March, 2014, 3:18am

A mainland Chinese crew member was killed and eight others were missing after their Taiwanese-owned freighter collided with another ship at the mouth of Tokyo Bay and sank yesterday.

The 130-metre Beagle III, which was carrying steel coil, collided with the South Korean-registered Pegasus Prime in the Uraga waterway at around 3.10am.

Twelve of the 20 Chinese crew aboard the Beagle III were rescued, but one was later confirmed dead, a Japan Coast Guard official said. "We are continuing to search for the eight others still missing," he said.

The ship's owner, Wisdom Marine, was working with authorities to rescue the missing crew and prevent pollution from the ship, which was loaded with steel coil, said Bruce Hsueh, a spokesman for the Taipei-based firm. Hsueh could not confirm the crew member's death.

The crew of the 127-metre-long Pegasus Prime, including six South Koreans and eight Myanmese, were accounted for. Two were injured while trying to lower a lifeboat, the Japanese official said. The ship, which was carrying 460 shipping containers from Busan, did not suffer serious damage, the Seoul-based Dong Young Shipping said.

The sea was not believed to be rough at the time of the collision, according to the coastguard.

An officer on duty at the China Search and Rescue Centre in Beijing told the South China Morning Post that it had received a briefing about the collision from the Chinese embassy in Japan, and decided not to send a rescue vessel into the busy channel.

"The accident happened in Japanese waters, only about four nautical miles off Japanese soil. Under circumstances like this, we would usually refrain from sending our own ships," he said.

The official said he believed the Japanese side would do their best in the search-and-rescue operation, and added that China would co-operate fully in the ensuing investigation into the collision.

Bloomberg, Agence France-Presse