• Kyodo


The Japan Coast Guard on Wednesday set up a task force to deal with fuel oil leaking from a sunken cargo ship because it may hit the shores of northern Hyogo Prefecture and nearby coastal areas on the Sea of Japan, coast guard officials said.

The task force was created after the discovery of an oil slick Wednesday morning after the ship collided with a Japanese fishing boat early Sunday off neighboring Shimane Prefecture, officials with the 8th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters said.

The oil slick measured some 25 km east to west and is situated about 30 km off the town of Aoya, Tottori Prefecture, said officials at the headquarters, based in Maizuru, Kyoto Prefecture.

The sunken AIGE, a Belizean-registered cargo ship, is still leaking, they added.

Early Sunday, the AIGE collided with the Koshi Maru No. 3 off Shimane’s Oki Islands and sank to a depth of 170 meters. The ship was carrying about 98.5 tons of fuel oil.

The headquarters has not yet recovered the large amounts of oil at the site and has asked for help from the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry. It said Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures will mobilize about 50 fishing vessels for the task.

The 2,847-ton AIGE, with a crew of 18, sank in the Sea of Japan about 26 km southeast of the islands after colliding with the 78-ton Koshi Maru, which was carrying eight crew members.

The crew of the AIGE, all Chinese nationals, were taken aboard the Koshi Maru. None were hurt, but two from the fishing boat suffered minor injuries, according to the coast guard.

The AIGE, bound for China, was carrying around 2,860 tons of scrap iron from Funakawa port in the city of Oga in Akita Prefecture. The fishing boat had just left Tottori’s Sakaiminato port.

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