US rescues 3 crew members from capsized South Korean cargo ship

One person still trapped after the vessel overturned while leaving a port on the coast of the state of Georgia.

    A Moran tugboat nears the stern of the vessel Golden Ray as it lays on its side as a tent and rescuers can be seen near the bottom of the ship near the tug boat [Stephen B Morton/AP]
    A Moran tugboat nears the stern of the vessel Golden Ray as it lays on its side as a tent and rescuers can be seen near the bottom of the ship near the tug boat [Stephen B Morton/AP]

    Three of the four missing crew members of a South Korean cargo vessel that flipped on its side off the coast of the US state of Georgia have been rescued by cutting a hole in its hull, the US Coast Guard said.

    A fourth missing crew member was in a more complicated location inside the ship, USCG Captain John Reed told a livestreamed news conference on Monday.

    "The same experts who got us to where we are right now are going to find a way to extract him," Reed said.

    He added that the condition of the three rescued "is relatively good for having spent 34 or 35 hours in the conditions they're in".

    Salvage crews made contact with the missing crew members on Monday morning and drilled a hole through the ship's hull to deliver food and water to them, Reed said.

    Helicopters rescued 20 crew members from the 200-metre Golden Ray on Sunday after it became disabled, began listing and eventually fell helplessly on its side in St Simons Sound, near Brunswick, Georgia, the coastguard said in a statement.

    A statement issued Monday by the South Korea foreign ministry said the crew members were isolated in an engine room. It said 10 South Koreans and 13 Filipinos had been on board, along with a US harbour pilot, when the ship began tilting.

    South Korea cargo
    Rescuers work near the stern of the vessel Golden Ray as it lays on its side [Stephen B Morton/AP]

    Position records for the Golden Ray show the ship arrived in port in Brunswick on Saturday evening after making the short sail from a prior stop in Jacksonville, Florida. The ship then departed from the dock in Brunswick shortly after midnight and was under way only 23 minutes before its movement stopped in the mouth of the harbour where it capsized, according to satellite data recorded by Marine Traffic.

    The coastguard said it was notified of the capsized vessel by a 911 call at about 2am (06:00GMT) on Sunday.

    The cause of the capsizing remains under investigation. Marine Traffic shows the Golden Ray overturned as it was passed by another car carrier entering St Simons Sound.

    At the time, the skies were clear and the weather calm, according to National Weather Service records.

    Many of those rescued were taken to the International Seafarers' Center in Brunswick. Sailors arrived with only what they were wearing when rescued.

    A restaurant donated a meal, and the volunteer-run centre provided the seamen with clothes, toiletries and Bibles. A priest said mass for the sailors Sunday afternoon before they were taken to a hotel.

    "They were all in relatively good spirits," said the centre's executive director, Vicki West. "We just do anything we can to be their little respite in the storm."

    The ship channel is currently closed to vessel traffic, with a safety zone around the Golden Ray in the sound.

    The vessel is owned by Hyundai Glovis, which carries cars of Hyundai, Kia and other companies.

    Nearly 614,000 vehicles and heavy machinery units moved across Brunswick's docks in the 2019 fiscal year that ended June 30, according to the Georgia Ports Authority.

    SOURCE: News agencies