SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korean divers were looking for at least five people believed to be trapped inside a Chinese fishing boat that capsized near a small southwestern island on Wednesday.
Four people were rescued by nearby Chinese fishing boats, but another man pulled by South Korean divers was feared to be dead, according to an official from the Ministry of Public Safety and Security. He spoke on condition of anonymity, citing office rules.
Divers believe five other passengers were still inside the boat, which wasn’t approved by South Korean authorities to fish in the country’s waters, the official said.
An official from maritime police in the port city of Mokpo, who also didn’t want to be named, said that the boat was being towed by other Chinese boats over unspecified problems when it rolled over in waters 85 kilometers (52 miles) northwest of Gageo island. The other vessels kept the boat from fully submerging until South Korean rescuers arrived, he said.
The accident occurred near a spot where a ferry sank in 2014 and killed more than 300 people, mostly teenagers on a school trip, in what was the country’s largest maritime disaster in decades.
Chinese fishing boats have been going farther afield to feed growing domestic demand for seafood as catches decrease in waters close to China’s shores. South Korea’s maritime police seized about 570 Chinese ships last year for illegal fishing, according to the ministry. (AP)