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Toxic ship sinks off Korea

Toxic ship sinks off Korea

Seoul: South Korea's coast guard has found a sunken ship carrying toxic cargo and 14 crew members who are feared dead.
The ship, carrying 2,000 tonnes of nitric acid, went missing after it sent out a distress signal early on Tuesday off Yeosu, 455km south of Seoul.
One sailor was rescued but the remaining 14 crew members had yet to be located and were feared dead in the chilly waters after the cargo ship was thought to have sunk.
Kang Byung-mun, a spokesman, said the coast guard believed the ship had sunk.
"Unfortunately, we didn't find any survivors," he said after overnight search and rescue attempts. Late Wednesday, a sonar device picked up the likely wreck of the ship, lying 200 feet below the surface.
The freighter left Yeosu on Monday night and was bound for Taiwan, carrying the acid for a logistics company.
The nitric acid on board, though toxic, "would likely be kept in the ship's storage facilities, which have good safety devices", an official said on condition of anonymity.
It was also not likely to cause environmental damage because it easily dilutes, the official said.
The survivor, a 28-year-old sailor from Myanmar, told investigators he watched the vessel sink before he and the other crew members - 12 South Koreans and two from Myanmar, were swept away, Kang said.
The news comes as a South Korean government-affiliated pollution agency seized the Hong Kong-registered tanker, Hebei Spirit, behind the country's worst oil spill more than two weeks ago.
The move is an attempt to force the vessel's owners to pay for the clean-up of more than 10,000 tonnes of crude oil that leaked from the tanker.
"We impounded the ship in order to receive compensation for the expenses of controlling the oil spill," said an official at the government-linked Korea Marine Pollution Response Corp. [27/12/07]

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