COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ Two North Korean survivors of a ship collision east of Sri Lanka were handed over to diplomats from their country Sunday, officials said.

The North Korean vessel, carrying cement and a crew of 39, collided with a South Korean freighter late Wednesday, 350 miles east of Sri Lanka's southern port city of Galle. The South Korean ship picked up the seamen.

The South Koreans handed over the two, the only survivors, and they will be returned home, said M.N. Riyal, an official from the local agents of the North Korean ship.

Rescuers have so far found only two empty life rafts, prompting Sri Lankan officials to believe that the others died.

The two survivors were on duty on the bridge at the time of the collision. The remaining 37 were believed trapped inside their cabins and the engine room when the ship sank.

It was the first known collision between ships from the rival neighbors in international waters.