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SEOUL: Eight people died and an undetermined number of others went missing after a fishing boat capsized off South Korea’s southern coast, ccoast guard officials said Sunday.
Three people were rescued and flown to a hospital, a Jeju coast guard officer said on condition of anonymity because of office rules. Dozens of ships searched the area for survivors.
The 9.8-ton boat, Dolphin, lost communication with officials on Saturday evening and was found Sunday morning north of the resort island of Jeju. A witness told Yonhap news agency that the boat quickly capsized because of high waves.
It wasn’t clear how many were on board, but most were passengers on a fishing trip, not professional fisherman, the official said.
A document listed 22 expected passengers, but officials have found that at least four of those listed did not actually board the ship. Also, one of the three survivors wasn’t among those listed in the document, Jeju’s coast guard chief Lee Pyung-hyun said.
More than 40 coast guard, navy and civilian ships searched the nearby waters, Lee said.
South Korea is still dealing with grief and anger over a maritime disaster last year that killed 300 people, mostly school children, when a ferry sank off the southern coast. Critics blamed lax government oversight and the country’s poor safety culture in part for the sinking.