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At Least Four Dead After Ships Collide

January 27, 1989

TOKYO (AP) _ The coast guard today recovered four bodies believed to have been crewmen of a freighter that collided with another vessel and sank in waters off western Japan, officials said.

Three helicopters, nine boats and a plane continued the search for survivors from the 2,900-ton Catherine-Rose, which collided with the 2,400-ton Semba Wang from Singapore and sank Thursday.

The Catherine-Rose was carrying 17 South Korean crew members, said Joji Imai, a duty officer at the Tokyo headquarters of the Maritime Safety Agency, Japan’s coast guard.

All four bodies had life jackets with the name of the Panamanian-registered freighter printed on them, Imai said.

The Singapore-registered Semba Wang sustained minor damage and no injuries, officials said.

Imai said a coast guard helicopter first spotted the bodies about a half- mile off Yoshimi-cho, 530 miles west of Tokyo.

The bodies had not yet been identified.

The Catherine-Rose left Kawasaki, south of Tokyo, on Tuesday with a cargo of 3,000 tons of scrap steel, but lost radio contact with the port of Pusan in South Korea late Thursday. The ship was to arrive in Pusan this morning.

The Semba Wang was traveling from Yosu on South Korea’s southwestern coast to Mizushima, 350 miles west of Tokyo, when the accident occurred, the officials said.

News reports said the Semba Wang veered right when it saw the other boat approaching but collided when the second ship also steered in the same direction.

Kyodo News Service quoted crew members from the Semba Wang as saying they returned to the accident site 10 minutes later and found two people in the water shouting for help, but were unable to rescue them because of rough waters.

Update hourly