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1 Indian killed in shipwreck off Japan

A freighter heading to Kashima from Australia catches fire and runs aground with 13 people being washed away.

india Updated: Oct 07, 2006 15:30 IST
Associated Press
Associated Press

Thirteen people, including four Indians, were washed out to sea after a freighter caught fire and ran aground in stormy weather off eastern Japan on Saturday, officials said.

Of the 13, an Indian man was found washed ashore and later died, Coast Guard official Shu Sasaki said. Three other Indians were rescued and were being treated for minor injuries, while nine others remained missing, he said.

Another thirteen crewmembers were still trapped aboard the freighter, the Panamanian-registered Giant Step, which had almost broken in two and remained stranded about 1.8 kilometres off Kashima port in east Japan, he said.

Rescue boats couldn't get near the ship, however, because of heavy wind and rain, Sasaki said. Eastern Japan was hit by stormy weather on Saturday from tropical storms Babinca and Rumbia in the Pacific Ocean.

Rescuers were searching the coast for the missing, and were in touch with those left on the 98,587-ton freighter, Sasaki said.

One of the three rescued Indian men was discovered by a passer-by, he said.

The Coast Guard did not identify any of the crewmembers.

The freighter, which was heading to Kashima from Australia, contacted Japanese authorities on Saturday saying a fire had broken out in its cabin area. Kashima is 95 kilometres east of Tokyo.

The Coast Guard also was searching for a large fishing boat stranded off Miyagi prefecture (state) in northeast Japan.

Authorities lost contact with the mackerel fishing boat after receiving a distress call on Saturday.

Thirteen of the boat's 16 crewmembers appeared to have escaped by lifeboat, but authorities had since lost contact with all of the crew, the report said.

First Published: Oct 07, 2006 12:28 IST