Massive cargo ship capsizes and catches fire near Georgia, Coast Guard search for crew

Four crew members of the Golden Ray, on its side in St. Simon Sound off the coast of Brunswick, Georgia, were still unaccounted for.

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By Kalhan Rosenblatt and Stella Kim

The U.S. Coast Guard was attempting late Sunday night to rescue four crew members trapped in the engine room of a massive cargo ship that capsized and caught fire early Sunday morning near Brunswick, Georgia.

South Korea's foreign ministry confirmed that the Hyundai Glovis cargo ship Golden Ray, which was transporting automobiles, had begun listing and then capsized in St. Simons Sound, in the early morning hours Sunday.

Sun bathers on Jekyll Island's Driftwood Beach look at their phones as the Golden Ray cargo ship sits capsized off the Georgia coast on Sunday.Terry Dickson / AP

At approximately 2 a.m. ET on Sunday, Coast Guard Sector Charleston was alerted and multiple Coast Guard resources were deployed to the scene, according to a Coast Guard press release.

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Twenty people, including six South Koreans, 13 people from the Philippines, and one American who was a pilot, were safely rescued, South Korea's foreign ministry said. The four others still trapped are South Korean.

The ship, which the Coast Guard described as "on fire" and could be seen in photos generating smoke, is 656-feet-long and 106-feet-wide. The Golden Ray was sailing under the flag of the Marshall Islands and weighed 71,178 tons, the ministry said.

During a press conference Sunday afternoon, officials said rescue efforts were underway, but it was determined going inside the ship to rescue the remaining four people was too risky. Authorities said they would resume their attempts to enter the ship and search for the four missing people once the vessel was stabilized.

Several local agencies were assisting the Coast Guard in its search for the missing crew members, including the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Moran Towing, SeaTow, Brunswick Bar Pilots Association, and the Glynn County Fire Department.

"We greatly appreciate the immediate response of the US Coast Guard, who are leading the search and rescue," Griffith V. Lynch, executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority, said.

The ship had just departed Colonels Island Terminal when it capsized.

A cargo ship overturned near Brunswick, Ga., on Sept. 8, 2019.WTLV