Ship with Russians on board sinks in Sea of Japan

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MOSCOW, Nov 18 (Reuters) A cargo ship with 36 people on board, most of them Russians, sank in the Sea of Japan today but the crew and passengers escaped on life rafts, the Russian Emergencies Ministry said.

The ship sank during a storm about 180 nautical miles off the port of Nakhodka in the Russian Far East, from where it was carrying timber to China.

''There were 30 Russian crew and six passengers on board,'' ministry spokesman Viktor Beltsov said. ''They all escaped on four life rafts.'' He gave no further details about the ship.

An Emergencies ministry duty official later said that by mid afternoon, 23 people have been safely picked up by vessels rushed to the scene. Ships and airplanes were searching for rafts with the remaining 13 people in a heavy storm.

REUTERS PY RN2250

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