Friday, February 20, 2009
Beijing: China has demanded Moscow investigate how a cargo ship was sunk by the Russian navy off Vladivostok with the loss of eight lives.
The New Star was pursued out of port in Nakhodka in the Siberian Far East on Sunday by a Russian naval vessel which believed it was involved in smuggling. The pursuing ship fired at least 500 rounds, forcing it to turn back to port, but it sank on the way.
Eight crew were rescued but eight more, five Indonesians and three Chinese, were missing presumed drowned after their lifeboat overturned.
The Chinese foreign ministry reported the incident on Wednesday, and on Thursday its spokeswoman said Beijing had called on Russia to investigate and "make full efforts to search for and rescue the missing sailors".
According to Russian and Chinese newspapers, the New Star had been held in Nakhodka on suspicion of smuggling, but had left port without notifying the authorities. A Russian naval cruiser set off after it.
The Chinese reports accused the Russians of not responding to the cries of help from the cargo ship as it began to sink. Although all 16 crew made it to the two lifeboats, one overturned in force 6 winds. [20/02/09]