10 die after S. Korea fishing boat capsizes
AT LEAST 10 people died and about eight were missing yesterday after a South Korean fishing boat capsized.
The 9.77-ton boat, Dolphin, overturned at about 6.25am local time yesterday near Chuja island, which lies between the Korean mainland's south coast and the resort island of Jeju, local Yonhap news agency quoted the police as saying.
The boat lost communications late on Saturday shortly after leaving Chuja, a popular fishing area, for the mainland. Twenty-one fishermen were believed to be on board the boat.
The bodies of 10 people were recovered in the waters near Chuja, while three others were pulled from the water and airlifted to hospitals, a coast guard official said.
He added that the three were expected to survive. Eight people were still missing yesterday.
One of the survivors, surnamed Park, said the boat capsized "in an instant" due to rolling waves.
"I was sleeping when the boat's engine went off and the captain told us to get out and water started to fill the boat," Yonhap quoted the 38-year-old as saying.
"I was the last to come outside and as soon as I did, the boat capsized."
Mr Park and the other two survivors climbed on top of the capsized boat and held on to it for more than 10 hours as they waited to be rescued.
Others, including the captain, were initially with them, but later disappeared after apparently falling off due to the strong waves, Mr Park said, adding that most were not wearing life jackets.
Another survivor was quoted as saying that around five others failed to escape from the boat when it turned over, Reuters reported.
However, the coast guard official said no one was found trapped in the boat during their search for more survivors.
Most of those on board were from an online fishing club based in Busan.
Eight naval vessels, a helicopter and a maritime patrol aircraft were dispatched to the site of the accident, according to a navy official.
In total, more than 50 naval and coast guard vessels were mobilised in the search and rescue operations.
President Park Geun Hye called on the rescue and recovery services to do their utmost in the search for the missing, her office said.
A lack of safety measures and inaccurate passenger records prevalent among ship operators were heavily criticised after the Sewol ferry disaster killed more than 300 people last year, reported Agence France-Presse.
Officials then vowed to overhaul public safety measures and toughen punishment over violations of safety rules. AGENCIES