20 March 2024

Eight dead, two missing after South Korean tanker capsizes off Japan

20 March 2024

Eight people have died after a South Korean chemical tanker capsized off an island in south-western Japan, authorities said.

One crew member survived and was rescued, with another two unaccounted for.

Officials said the tanker was carrying 980 tonnes of acrylic acid, a corrosive organic compound used in adhesives, paints and polishes.

No leak has been detected, and officials are studying what environmental protection measures may be needed in case there is a leak.

The Japanese coast guard said it received a distress call from the chemical tanker Keoyoung Sun, saying that it was tilting while seeking refuge from bad weather near Japan’s Mutsure Island, about 620 miles from Tokyo in south-western Japan.

The ship was completely capsized by the time rescuers arrived at the scene.

Footage on Japan’s NHK television showed the ship lying upside down, with a rough sea washing over its red underside.

The ship was carrying 11 crew, of whom nine have been found, authorities said.

The one crew member confirmed alive is from Indonesia, with the coast guard still searching for two more.

South Korean officials have held a meeting to discuss the incident.

Vice foreign minister Kang Insun asked officials to mobilise all available resources to support rescue works and assist the relatives of South Korean crew members, according to the foreign ministry.

The ship was en route from the Japanese port of Himeji to Ulsan in South Korea, the coast guard said.

Its captain was South Korean, and its crew included another South Korean national, a Chinese national and eight Indonesians, according to the coast guard.

Acrylic acid is also used in plastics, resin and coatings, and can irritate the skin, eyes and mucous membranes, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.

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