South Korean ship partially sinks; 5 crewmen die

The explosion of the 4,191-tonne freight ship, with 16 crewmen on board happened on Sunday morning.

Updated: Jan 15, 2012, 11:34 AM IST

Seoul: A South Korean cargo ship was rocked by an explosion off the country`s west coast on Sunday, leaving five people dead and six others missing, officials said.

The unexplained explosion tore apart the front of the ship and left the 4,198-ton vessel half-submerged, coast guard officials said. Two of the five bodies located later had serious external wounds, suggesting they were killed by the explosion, coast guard officer Kim Dong-jin said.

Five crewmen were rescued and searchers were trying to locate the six missing, the coast guard said in a statement.

The explosion occurred relatively far from the tense sea border with North Korea, and the coast guard doesn`t suspect the North was involved, coast guard officer Ko Jae-young said.

North Korea is accused of torpedoing a South Korean warship in 2010, killing 46 sailors, though Pyongyang has denied involvement.

The cargo ship, which usually carried refined petroleum products and chemicals, was carrying 80 tons of Bunker-C oil and 40 tons of diesel oil as its fuel when it exploded, the coast guard statement said. Oil leakage weren`t immediately reported, it said.
Eleven members of the crew are from South Korea, and the other five are from Myanmar.

Bureau Report