Illegally fishing North Korea boat sinks after encounter with Japanese vessel

  • World
  • Monday, 07 Oct 2019

A Japanese boat (top R), which belongs to the Fisheries Agency, commence rescue work as a life boat from a North Korean fishing vessel (bottom R) floats in the sea, northwest of Noto Peninsular, central Japan, in this handout photo taken October 7, 2019 and provided by Japan Coast Guard. 9th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters - Japan Coast Guard/Handout via REUTERS

TOKYO (Reuters) - A North Korean fishing boat sank on Monday after a crash with a Japanese patrol boat trying to chase it out of Japan's economic zone and some of its crew were rescued and some believed to be missing, Japanese officials said.

The Japanese coastguard did not give details about how the two vessels crashed in the Sea of Japan but a Japanese ministry official said the North Korean boat was fishing illegally in Japan's exclusive economic zone.

"Normally, we police illegal fishing with such steps as using water cannon or showing messages on electronic displays. This time, the contact happened while we were warning the ship to sail away," Satoshi Kuwahara, head of Japan's Fisheries Agency's enforcement division, was quoted by public broadcaster NHK as saying.

More than 10 of the fishing boat's crew had been rescued, Japan's coastguard said.

The coastguard had earlier said about 20 crewmen were adrift following the incident, which happened 350 km (217 miles) northwest of Noto peninsula in central Japan.

NHK earlier quoted Hiroyuki Suematsu, vice minister of the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry, as saying the boats had collided.

Search and rescue operations involving seven Japanese government ships and aircraft were underway, said a regional coastguard official.

(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Karishma Singh, Robert Birsel)

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