Japanese officials have reported that a Panamanian-flagged cargo ship has gone missing while underway in the Sea of Japan earlier this week.
Officials said the unnamed vessel was at a point 380 kilometres off Okinoshima Island when it sent out a distress signal on the afternoon (local time) of Wednesday, December 1. However, contact with the same ship was later lost.
The Japan Coast Guard deployed a patrol boat to the area after the crew of a Russian ship passing through those same waters sighted a drifting lifeboat with 17 people on board.
The castaways were subsequently rescued by South Korean maritime authorities on Thursday, December 2. The 17 survivors are all Vietnamese nationals and have been identified as crewmen of the missing ship, which is believed to have sunk.
An eighteenth individual fell overboard from the lifeboat some time prior to the rescue and is still missing.
Japanese and South Korean vessels are continuing to comb the area in an attempt to locate the missing sailor.
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