10 Crew Missing as Freighter Sinks

10 Crew Missing as Freighter Sinks

TOKYO (AP) -- A Hong Kong-registered freighter sank in rough seas off the Philippine coast, leaving 10 crewmembers missing, Japan's coast guard said.

It said a distress call was received early Friday from the 33,205-ton Emerald Star from a location about 150 nautical miles (280 kilometers) off the Philippines' eastern coast. It said 26 crewmembers, all Indians, were aboard.

The coast guard said three passing freighters rescued 16 of the crewmembers from the sea, and a fourth freighter later also joined the search in the area where the Hong Kong ship is believed to have sunk.

Two patrol aircraft dispatched by the coast guard are searching from the sky, while three patrol boats are still on their way, slowed down by a storm in the area.

Philippine coast guard spokesman Armand Balilo said the agency attempted to dispatch a ship and helicopter to help search the area, which is beyond the country's territorial waters, but were turned back by stormy weather.

Coast guard agencies in nearby countries were also alerted about the ship sinking, he said. He said it was standard procedure for the Philippines to help out in such a case.

"Search and rescue missions are borderless," Balilo said by telephone in Manila.

Photos taken by a Japanese coast guard aircraft showed a damaged lifeboat believed to be from the sunken ship floating in choppy waters, along with traces of an oil leak.

The coast guard said the cause of the sinking was not known.