Coast Guard officials stand on the overturned keel of a capsized fishing vessel approximately 16.6 kilometers west of Daebichi-do, an island off the coast of Mokpo, South Jeolla, in the early hours of Sunday. [YONHAP]
A fishing boat capsized in waters off the southwestern coast late Saturday evening, prompting a midnight rescue order by the president, the presidential office said.
President Yoon Suk Yeol issued the order at 12:47 a.m. on Sunday after news reached the presidential office that nine people were missing after their fishing vessel flipped over not far from an island near Mokpo, South Jeolla.
The president also sent Cho Seung-hwan, minister of oceans and fisheries, and Vice Minister of the Interior and Safety Han Chang-seob to the area to oversee local rescue efforts, while ordering Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup to dispatch naval special forces.
“President Yoon ordered relevant ministries, including the Ministry of the Interior and Safety, to mount an all-out effort by expanding the scope of search area through cooperation between related agencies,” said Kim Eun-hye, senior public relations secretary for the presidential office.
According to Kim, the president told ministries in charge of the rescue effort to “be thorough so that there is no shortage of support for victims, such as updates for the families of the missing and on-site waiting spaces and supplies.”
According to local officials, the ship’s sinking was first reported at 11:19 p.m. on Saturday.
The ship — a 24-ton Incheon-class vessel — capsized for reasons that remain unclear approximately 16.6 kilometers (9.9 miles) west of Daebichi-do, an island in Sinan County, South Jeolla.
Of the 12 crew members aboard the fishing boat at the time, three were rescued from the sea by nearby merchant vessels, according to local media reports.
The Coast Guard is still searching for the missing nine people in the area of the accident, officials said.
BY MICHAEL LEE [[email protected]]
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