Two bodies found after S.Korea ship goes missing near Taiwan
By Fabian Hamacher and Hyonhee Shin
TAIPEI/SEOUL (Reuters) -Taiwan has recovered two bodies after a ship carrying six South Koreans went missing in the Taiwan Strait, and search and rescue operations are under way, the Taiwanese and South Korean governments said on Friday.
Taiwan authorities have said they received distress signals from the Kyoto 1 at around 9:50 a.m. (0050 GMT) on Thursday from a location about 18 miles (29 km) west of the island, the foreign ministry in Seoul said, adding that all six people aboard were South Korean nationals.
The Sierra Leone-flagged, 322-ton ship was on its way to Indonesia’s Batam port from the South Korean city of Busan while towing the Kyoto 2 tender vessel, which has been found in the area.
“Our government has launched an emergency response team and dispatched a patrol ship and helicopters for a search,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that it was working with a Taiwanese patrol authorities.
Taiwan’s National Rescue Command Centre said the ship had sent out a distress message in waters near the Penghu islands in the Taiwan Strait and they had sent ships and aircraft to look for it.
Fishermen have discovered two bodies, whose identities have yet to be confirmed, and efforts are continuing to find the other four, it added.
In a separate accident, a helicopter tasked with aiding the Taiwan operation crashed in waters off South Korea’s southernmost Mara island on Friday, killing two crew members and injuring a third with a fourth missing, the coast guard said.
A team of two coast guard pilots and two other officials was aboard the Sikorsky S-92 helicopter when it plunged into the sea 370 km (225 miles) southwest of the island at about 1:32 a.m. (1632 GMT Thursday).
The chopper was returning to its base at the Jeju island after dropping six members of a special rescue squad on a nearby patrol ship leaving for Taiwan, said Park Je-soo, a Jeju coast guard official.
“The pilot was alive when he was rescued, but his co-pilot and a radar operator were unconscious. Despite our emergency care, they did not regain consciousness,” Park told a televised briefing.
The pilot suffered multiple fractures and was hospitalised for treatment, and a search was ongoing for the missing fourth person, a mechanic, he added.
(Reporting by Fabian Hamacher and Hyonhee Shin; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Taipei; Editing by Stephen Coates and Raju Gopalakrishnan)