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North Korean ship leaves Nakagusuku after repairs

Date Posted: 2003-10-18

A North Korean ship this week left Nakagusuku Port, where it had been moored since Sep. 28, when officials gave it a go-ahead after confirming that the ship had fixed its safety problems. The 1,499-ton Rung Ra Do carried a cargo of scrap metal and used cars. The ship was originally scheduled to leave three days after it arrived, but officials at Okinawa General Bureau and the Maritime Safety Agency (Coast Guard) boarded the ship and conducted an extra stringent safety inspection.

Inspectors found 33 defects in the shipís safety equipment, including a malfunctioning engine fuel leak alarm. They also said the ship lacked detailed sea maps of waters around Okinawa, as is required by law. North Korean ships have become a target for detailed inspections in Japanese ports because of suspicion they are used for espionage, smuggling of narcotics and other illegal activities.

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