• Kyodo

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A vessel appearing to be a North Korean freighter fled early Saturday after colliding with a Japanese fishing boat in the Sea of Japan, the Japan Coast Guard said.

Crew members of the 75-ton Yamato Maru No. 2 fishing boat reported to the coast guard around 1:30 a.m. that their vessel had been hit by what is believed to be the 487-ton Seungri 1 of North Korea.

The collision took place in international waters about 61 km north of the Oki Islands off Shimane Prefecture, the coast guard said.

After the collision, the cargo ship continued on in a north-north-westerly direction, with the fishing boat briefly giving chase. None of the six crew members on the fishing boat were injured.

At about 3:30 a.m., a coast guard patrol vessel caught up with the freighter and asked about the collision. A crew member of the ship replied that the ship had nothing to do with the accident. It refused requests to stop.

The coast guard left the scene shortly after 7 a.m. because it has no authority to forcibly order ships to halt in international waters.

According to the coast guard, the cargo ship’s name, written in Korean, was visible. There were also scratch marks on the stern, apparently caused by the collision.

The freighter had unloaded crabs at Sakaiminato port in Tottori Prefecture on Thursday and left for Sinpho port in North Korea on Friday evening, the coast guard said.

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