ALL 20 crew of the Panamanian-registered cargo ship, Ekman, were rescued yesterday after their vessel was holed and began sinking 270 nautical miles southeast of Hongkong. The rescue effort was co-ordinated by the Marine Department's Maritime Rescue Co-ordinating Centre, which received a distress signal from the vessel early in the afternoon. The 20 crew managed to abandon the 4,000-tonne cargo ship and take to a life boat and a life raft without any mishaps. The centre asked ships in the area to be on the lookout for the crew and a fixed-wing aircraft of the Royal Hongkong Auxiliary Air Force went to the scene and located the vessel less than two hours after the distress signal was received. A 20,000-tonne container vessel, Shanghai, was in the vicinity and responded to the call, but the crew members were taken on board the Turkish cargo vessel, the Kale-1, which is now taking them on to Taiwan. Three of the Ekman's crew were from Hongkong, two from Burma and the other 15 from the Philippines. The three Hongkong crew were the master, Mr Wong Yuk-tak, 57, chief engineer Mr Kon Kuk-cheung, 47 and second engineer Mr Neh Man-wah, 44. Late last night, the Ekman was listing 30 degrees to starboard and the sea was washing over its deck. The Marine Department put out a warning to ships in the vicinity to avoid the abandoned vessel. The Ekman was travelling from Malaysia to Shekou in China with a cargo of logs.