updated 12/25/2007 9:08:07 AM ET 2007-12-25T14:08:07

Fourteen sailors aboard a ship carrying nitric acid were missing Tuesday after their vessel was thought to have sunk in South Korea’s southern waters. One survivor was taken to a hospital.

The 1,323-ton ship was carrying 2,000 tons of nitric acid — a highly corrosive chemical used to clean metals — when it went missing.

Choi Eun-ju, a regional Coast Guard officer, said because nitric acid easily dilutes it is unlikely to pose a threat to the ocean or marine life if the ship sank.

South Korea’s Coast Guard and navy started searching for the ship after it sent out a distress signal off Yeosu, 283 miles south of Seoul, early Tuesday, said spokesman Eum Seung-ye. It was sailing to Taiwan after leaving the southern port city of Gwangyang on Monday night.

One sailor — identified as a 28-year-old Burmese — was found floating unconscious at sea hours later, but the other 14 crew members — 12 South Koreans and two from Myanmar — were still missing, Eum said.

The news comes as South Korea battles to contain the nation’s worst-ever oil spill, which has blackened beaches and jeopardized the ecosystem along the country’s west coast. A wayward barge hit a supertanker on Dec. 7 causing the tanker to leak 78,920 barrels of oil.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments