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5 of crew members missing from fishing boat capsizing

Feb. 5, 2023 - 13:54 By Park Jun-hee
A rescue vessel attends to a 24-ton fishing boat that overturned off the coast of Sinan, South Jeolla Province. (Mokpo Coast Guard)

Three crew were rescued from a fishing boat after it capsized off the southwestern coast late Saturday, and a search is underway for the other nine missing crew, South Korea’s Coast Guard said Sunday.

The Mokpo Coast Guard received a report at 11:19 p.m. Saturday that the 24-ton fishing boat had overturned 16.6 kilometers west of Daebichido, an inhabited island in Sinan, South Jeolla Province.

Two Koreans and one Indonesian were rescued by the Coast Guard and taken to the hospital. Nine others -- seven Koreans and two Vietnamese -- were still missing as of press time.

The fishing boat overturned after water entered the engine room, according to those rescued. At the time of the incident, two crew members were reportedly in the engine room, and the others were on deck. They added that the boat showed signs of instability right after departure.

Officials have expanded the search for the crew members who are still missing by dispatching 64 ships, 12 aircraft and 58 divers and conducted 14 sessions of onboard searches, adding more personnel to the site than the initial number.

President Yoon Suk Yeol has dispatched the minister of oceans and fisheries and the vice minister of interior and safety to the site, his office said in a statement. It added that Yoon had been briefed on the accident since midnight Saturday.

President Yoon has also called on the defense minister to deploy additional Navy special forces to the maritime accident scene and relevant ministries to provide exact information on the accident.

He has also directed the chief of the Coast Guard to “do everything possible for the search and rescue of the missing people” and to widen the search area, according to the presidential office.