Cargo Ship Sinks In Hong Kong; 11 Crew Members Still Missing

A cargo ship sinks off the coast of Hong Kong as rescue teams search for 11 crew members who are still missing. The accident happened after the ship collided with a large container vessel.

Floating debris from the sunken dry-bulk ship, including life jackets, were spotted near the point of collision in Chinese territorial waters south of Hong Kong, according to the Guangdong Maritime Safety Administration, which is spearheading search-and-rescue efforts.

The agency said the search, which also involves vessels from Hong Kong’s marine police and fire departments, remains under way, but rescuers have so far made no progress in locating the missing people.

Fishing boats earlier Monday rescued one injured crew member from the sunken cargo ship, a Hong Kong police spokeswoman said. The survivor told authorities there were 11 others aboard the ship.

The cause of the collision, which took place at around 2:30 a.m. local time Monday, is under investigation, though authorities said the rescue mission remains their priority.

Authorities have identified the sunken ship as the 97-meter-long Zhong Xing 2, which had a crew of 12 and was transporting cement to the southern city of Haikou from northeastern Hebei province before the collision, according to Hong Kong’s marine department.

Zhong Xing 2 collided with the Marshall Islands-registered container ship MOL Motivator, which was sailing from Hong Kong to a nearby Shenzhen port. Chinese marine officials said the MOL Motivator also participated in search-and-rescue efforts, without elaborating.

The waters around Hong Kong contain some of the world’s busiest shipping routes, with cargo and passenger vessels crisscrossing the channels to outlying islands and mainland China. Many ships travel near Hong Kong to reach neighboring Pearl River Delta, southern China’s industrial hub.

Heavy shipping traffic has contributed to more accidents involving injuries or deaths in recent years. According to data from the city’s Marine Department, 171 people were injured or killed in shipping accidents in or near Hong Kong waters last year. That is down from 232 in 2012, but up from 78 people 2010.

Still, experts say Hong Kong remains one of the world’s safest maritime hubs given tough regulations on ship maintenance and port management.

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