6 May 2005

Japanese vessels sinks off Majuro Atoll in Marshall Islands

12:42 pm on 6 May 2005

A Japanese longline fishing vessel sank off of Majuro Atoll in the Marshall Islands early Thursday but its crew of 14 was rescued by a passing Chinese fishing vessel.

The four Japanese and 10 Filipinos on the crew of the Zenko Maru Number 8 managed to launch a lifeboat before the fishing boat sank.

A Marshall Islands-based Chinese longliner, the Shen Lian Cheng, spotted the other boat about eight miles northeast of Majuro Atoll after drifting for eight hours.

An official at the U.S. Embassy in Majuro said Japanese-based coast guard officials called the U.S. Coast Guard in Hawaii to request assistance after being alerted by the Zenko Maru that it was sinking.

Officials in Majuro were subsequently alerted, and the government1s patrol vessel was sent out to search for the vessel.

Crew members said the Zenko Maru Number 8 started taking on water Wednesday night, forcing them to abandon ship about 2 am Thursday.