SEOUL, April 8 — A ship carrying six South Koreans went missing off Taiwan and a search and rescue operation is under way, Seoul’s foreign ministry said on Friday.
Taiwan authorities have said they received distress signals from the Kyoto 1 at around 9:50am (0050 GMT) on Thursday from a location about 18 miles (29 km) west of the island nation, the ministry 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.
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 1:32am (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. — Reuters