At least eight dead as South Korean-flagged tanker capsizes off Japan

Search operation under way after 11 member-strong Keoyoung Sun turns over off southwestern Japan’s Honshu main island.

Keoyoung Sun, a South Korean-flagged chemical tanker, is capsized off the coast of Yamaguchi prefecture in western Japan, March 20, 2024, in this photo taken by Kyodo. Mandatory credit Kyodo via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. JAPAN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN JAPAN
Keoyoung Sun, a South Korean-flagged chemical tanker, capsized off the coast of Yamaguchi prefecture in western Japan [Kyodo via Reuters]

Eight people have been pronounced dead and two are still missing after a South Korean-flagged tanker capsized off Japan in rough seas, according to officials.

The Keoyoung Sun with 11 crew members turned over on Wednesday near Mutsure Island, just off southwestern Japan’s Honshu main island, about 1,000km (620 miles) from the capital, Tokyo.

The coastguard initially said it had rescued nine people out of an 11-member crew made up of two South Koreans, including the captain, eight Indonesians and a Chinese national. It then said one, an Indonesian national, was still alive while another person, who was initially said to be of unknown condition, was later pronounced dead. Earlier, authorities said all nine found were in “unknown condition”.

A rescue operation for the remaining two people missing is still under way.

South Korean officials held a meeting Wednesday to discuss the capsizing. During the meeting, Vice Foreign Minister Kang Insun asked officials to mobilize 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 from, according to NHK.

There was no immediate information on what caused the ship to capsize.

The crew had alerted the coastguard that the tanker was tilting as it took refuge near Mutsure Island due to rough weather, according to Japanese broadcaster NHK.

Officials said the tanker was carrying 980 tons of acrylic acid, a corrosive organic compound that is 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.

Footage from NHK showed the overturned red hull of the ship as well as a life raft, as a coastguard ship pounded through heavy waves and a helicopter flew overhead.

The ship completely capsized by the time rescuers arrived at the scene, the coastguard said.

According to the specialist website, the Keoyoung Sun is a chemical and oil products tanker built in 1996, measuring 69 metres (226 feet) in length.

There was no immediate comment by the ship’s operator.

Source: News Agencies