Two dead, two missing after cargo ships collide in Sea of Japan

 Image: Kyodo
Image: Kyodo
Image: Kyodo
Image: Kyodo

Two people are confirmed dead while another two remain unaccounted for after two cargo vessels collided in the Sea of Japan on Sunday, May 26.

The collision between the 499-tonne vessels Sensho Maru and Sumiho Maru occurred at around 02:10 local time approximately 12 kilometres off Inubosaki in Chiba Prefecture.

Sumiho Maru suffered only minor damage to the bow and no injuries were reported among the crew. However, Sensho Maru sank almost immediately and ended up on the seafloor at a depth of about 30 metres.

The Japan Coast Guard (JCG) immediately despatched vessels to the area to render assistance. JCG personnel later brought Sensho Maru's captain out of the water, the only one of the vessel's five crewmembers to be rescued.

Divers have since discovered one of the missing crewmembers inside the submerged ship while the body of a second crewmember was found unresponsive two days later floating in the water near where the sinking occurred. This individual was soon afterward also pronounced dead.

The JCG has been working on containing oil that had leaked from the wreck of Sensho Maru as the search for the vessel's two remaining crewmembers continues.

The poor visibility in the area in the early morning hours of Sunday was a likely factor in the collision, a coast guard official said.

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