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Over 30 Sailors Missing After North Korean Coal Carrier Sinks

March 1, 1996

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ Over 30 sailors are missing after a North Korean coal carrier sank in a storm this week, according to two sailors rescued by the South Korean navy in the Sea of Japan.

South Korean patrol boats found Lee Jin Kyu, 34, an engineer, and Kim Il Chul, 28, a cook, drifting in a lifeboat south of the eastern sea border Thursday. The two were in stable condition, hospital officials at the eastern coast port of Tonghae said Friday.

The lifeboat was also carrying the bodies of two sailors.

Lee and Kim told police that 37 people were on board when the 9,996-ton coal carrier Yompunjin-ho went down in a storm on Tuesday. All the other crewmen of the North Korean ship were believed missing.

Officials said Seoul has not yet decided when to repatriate the sailors.

The Koreas, divided into the communist North and the capitalist South in 1945, are still technically at war, with no peace treaty signed at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

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