Mystery surrounds a Chinese cargo ship which sank off the southwestern coast of South Korea.
The ship, found 10 metres west of Gageodo island in the Yellow Sea, was found to be unmanned, fueling suspicions that the vessel may have been used for smuggling.
Although the ship had its purported name, “Xiang Shun 899” painted on its hull, searches of international ship databases did not turn up any vessel of this name, leading to local media terming the vessel a “ghost ship”.
The Korea Coast Guard was alerted to the incident by fishermen around 7.28 am (local time) on 29 November.
When coast guard personnel arrived at the scene, they found that vessel listing at about 45 degrees and half the hull was submerged. At about 10 am local time, the vessel sank completely.
Coast guard personnel dived into the waters, but found no one inside the sunken vessel. A joint search-and-rescue operation with the navy and South Jeolla province’s police force, covering the nearby islands of Heuksando, Jindo and the port city of Mokpo, did not turn up any distressed crewmen or bodies.
The coast guard is investigating the possibility that the vessel crew could have abandoned the ship, allowing the vessel to drift before running aground on a reef.