No news about Russian crew detained by N Korea

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Moscow, Feb 24: On Feb 24 Russia said, "no information was available about the crew of its ship, the Lidia Demesh, detained by North Korean coastguards". ''The 25-member crew are under arrest. They have no access to the radio set and they did not go on air,'' the spokesman for the Vladivostok Rescue Coordinating Centre Vladimir Sviridov told Interfax news agency on Feb 24. ''No information is available about the crew, because it is a day off and the North Korean Consulate General in Nakhodka is closed. It is not known, either, at which port they are now,'' Mr Sviridov said.

According to earlier reports, the Lidia Demesh, carrying used cars from Japan to Vladivostok, was detained by North Korean coastguards in the Sea of Japan on Feb 23. The crew informed the Vladivostok Rescue Coordinating Centre by radio last morning that the ship had been stopped by North Korean coastguards off Cape Musudan, Centre spokesman Vladimir Yeroshkin said.

Mr Yeroshkin said the ship was boarded by an armed group and the crew was ordered to move to a port in North Korea. He added the incident was reported to the Russian Foreign Ministry official in Vladivostok and to the Russian border service.

In a similar incident in December 2005, North Korean coastguards stopped the Ternei, a Vladivostok ship, which was seeking shelter from a storm near the North Korean coast.

The captain informed the local border service of the ship's entry into North Korean territorial waters and was given the go-ahead. But the ship was later detained. The media reported then, that the Russian ship's location near North Korea's restricted missile testing site was the reason for the detention. It took about two weeks to resolve the crisis through diplomatic channels.

UNI

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