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Crew rescued as cargo ship sinks

Date Posted: 2006-03-17

Local Maritime Safety Agency teams were heroes early Monday as they rescued a 24-man crew from a sinking cargo ship near Kume Island.

The ‘SOS’ went out about 1:30am Monday from the Panamanian cargo ship Vangine, sailing 150 kilometers off Kume Island west of Okinawa’s main island. The ‘SOS’ warned water was pouring into the 11,640 ton vessel, a cargo ship traveling to China from Honduras in South America. The appeal was to “Please help us.”

Storm winds were buffeting the area and waves were high as the Maritime Safety Agency rescuers arrived on scene. They found the crewmen already in the water, clinging to several small dinghys.

The cargo ship, carrying 1,600 tons of wood, was floundering and rescuers saw more than 500-600 tons of wood already outside the ship.

Four hours after the ‘SOS’, the ship sank, spilling oil as well as additional wooden cargo onto the ocean surface. At daybreak, Japanese Air Self Defense aircraft and helicopters joined the rescue effort, with helicopter crews plucking the exhausted crewmen from the waters. All are reported in good condition.

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