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SKorean navy ship sinking after boat collision

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA (AP): A South Korean navy ship was sinking after colliding with a larger fishing boat late Friday, leaving one sailor dead and two missing, the military said.

The 150-ton navy vessel was returning to its base following a routine patrol mission when it collided with a 270-ton fishing boat in the waters northwest of the southern resort island of Jeju, a spokesman at the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

Twenty-eight navy sailors were rescued but one of them died while being treated at a hospital on the island. Two others were still missing, the spokesman said on condition of anonymity citing department policy.

The cause of the collision wasn't immediately known, and it wasn't disclosed whether the sailors rescued were in life boats or elsewhere. Navy vessels and helicopters were sent to the area to locate the missing crew, he said.

Damage to the fishing boat wasn't severe, the spokesman said. It was not immediately known how many crew were aboard the South Korean fishing boat, but another Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman said his office has not received any reports that any of them were injured.

Nearly four hours after the collision, the navy ship has almost sunk but no salvage operation has been made, the second officer said, also on condition of anonymity citing office policy.

The fishing boat was being towed to Jeju Island, according to the first spokesman. The island, about an hour's flight from Seoul, is a popular honeymoon resort for South Koreans.

The collision occurred nearly eight months after a South Korean warship sank near the tense western sea border with North Korea. Forth-six sailors were killed and an international investigation blamed North Korea for torpedoing the vessel. North Korea flatly denies any responsibility.

South Korea's military is on its highest alert ahead of a two-day gathering of leaders from the G-20 advanced and developing economies in Seoul. North Korea has a history of acting provocatively when world attention is focused on South Korea.

The Korean peninsula officially remains in a state of war because their 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.


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