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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - SEOUL — Nine people went missing on Sunday after a fishing boat capsized off the southwest coast of South Korea, authorities said, with the country's president urging stepped-up search and rescue efforts, according to Reuters.
The fishing boat overturned just before midnight on Saturday. Three crewmembers were picked up by a passing ship, the Coast Guard said. Nine others, however, are still unaccounted for.
It was reported at 11:19 p.m. Saturday that the 24-ton vessel had overturned in waters 16.6 kilometers west of the island of Daebichi, the authorities said. The uninhabited island lies some 20 km from the southwestern county of Sinan.
A total of 12 people, including three foreign nationals, were on board, they said. Three of the crew were rescued by a nearby boat and were transported to a hospital, the authorities said.
Meeting with the families of the missing people in Sinan, Oceans Minister Cho Seung-hwan said they appear to have been on the deck at the time of the accident.
Most of those who went missing seem to have been forced to abandon the ship, he added, reversing from an earlier assumption that they were locked inside it.
The minister said the search operation has been expanded to scan a larger area by deploying not only Coast Guard and Navy boats but also nearby fishing boats.
The Navy said it has deployed ships, aircraft and members of the Sea Salvage and Rescue Unit (SSU) to assist in the operation.
Earlier, President Yoon Suk Yeol urged maximum efforts for the search and rescue of the missing people. He ordered the mobilization of all available resources by widening the search and rescue area, presidential spokeswoman Kim Eun-hye said.
He also emphasized the need for the full support of the families of the missing, as he ordered the dispatch of Cho and Interior Minister Lee Sang-min to the site, Kim added. — Agencies
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