Cargo Ships Collide; 16 Missing

TOKYO (AP) - Two cargo ships collided off the coast of a central
Japanese island Tuesday, leaving 16 South Korean and Indonesian
crew members missing, Japan's coast guard said.

The coast guard dispatched five ships and three helicopters to
search for the 16 crew - seven South Koreans and nine Indonesians.
They were on board the South Korean-registered cargo ship, which
collided with a Panama-registered cargo vessel in the waters off
Izu Oshima, a small island about 120 kilometers (74 miles) south of
Tokyo.

"We are continuing search and rescue operations, but the 16
crew members remain missing," said coast guard spokesman Hidefumi
Onoue. He said the 4,255-ton South Korean ship was also missing,
and that it might have sunk.

"When the collision took place early in the morning, the
visibility of the area was very poor due to rain," he said.

All 19 crew on the 10,833-ton Panama-registered ship are safe,
Onoue said, adding that the vessel joined the search and rescue
operations. The 19 crew comprised 14 Thais, three from Myanmar, and
two Indonesians.

The South Korean ship carrying steel parts was on its way home,
while the Panamanian ship carrying vehicles was heading toward a
port in Aichi, about 125 miles (200 kilometers) west of the
collision area, the coast guard said. It was not immediately clear
how the collision happened.


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