18 missing, 4 rescued after cargo ship sinks off southwest Japan | Weather news

Search and rescue efforts are underway after a cargo ship carrying timber capsized between Japan and South Korea.

Japan and South Korea are searching for 18 crew members of a cargo ship that capsized in bad weather.

A spokesman for the Japanese Coast Guard said four crew members were rescued Wednesday after the 6,551-ton Jintian sank off the coast of Nagasaki, Japan. The four of them, all Chinese citizens, were picked up by nearby vessels.

The Jintian sank nearly four hours after its crew sent a distress call late Tuesday, according to Japan’s Kyodo news agency.

The crew said their ship was “leaning over and flooding,” the agency reported.

Japanese officials said 14 crew members on the Hong Kong-registered ship were Chinese and eight were from Myanmar.

According to South Korean officials, the ship’s captain last communicated with the coast guard of South Korea’s Jeju island via satellite phone at around 2:41 a.m. local time on Wednesday (17:41 GMT Tuesday), saying the crew members would be abandoning the ship.

The ship was completely submerged when the South Korean coast guard arrived at the scene, Yonhap news agency reported.

Crews found no one on the three life rafts and two lifeboats they searched.

So far, there is no information about what caused the capsize of the ship that was transporting timber.

The incident came as a cold snap hit much of Japan and South Korea, with heavy snow falling in some areas and daytime temperatures on some islands closest to the rescue site reaching just 3C (37F).

Japan’s coast guard said winds were strong at the time the distress signal was received.

They said they had sent patrol boats and aircraft to the area, but their arrival was delayed by bad weather.

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