MOSCOW, Oct 24 (Reuters) Rescue teams, battling inclement weather, have saved five crew from a wrecked Russian cargo ship off South Korea's coast, and recovered the body of another seaman, Russian news agencies reported today.
A total of 18 crew were aboard the 2,448-tonne Sinegorye, which was believed to have sunk while carrying a cargo of timber from Russia's Far East to China.
Interfax news agency, quoting Russia's Emergency Minister in the Pacific port of Vladivostok as saying that four of the five rescued crew were in satisfactory condition and had been taken to South Korean ports. The fifth remained on a vessel taking part in rescue operations.
Emergency Ministry officials said poor weather had prompted a postponement until tomorrow of plans to send a Russian aircraft to help search the area.
The South Korean coast guard said the Sinegorye sent a mayday call at around noon on Monday about 70 miles off Ullung Island on the east coast and was believed to have sunk. Water had entered its cargo compartment in rough seas.
A South Korean ship had initially found three sailors alive.
''A life raft with one crewman, who was alive, was found. Another two were pulled from the water, also alive,'' Interfax quoted a Russian rescue service official as saying.
''The Sinegorye's lifeboat has also been found but there was no one in it,'' the official said.
Two large patrol boats and a search aircraft were dispatched to the area but the ships experienced difficulty reaching the area until well into the night, a South Korean coast guard official said by telephone from the coastal city of Donghae.
''It is too early to talk about the fate of the (other) crew members,'' the official said. ''Weather conditions remain extremely bad.'' Heavy rain hit South Korea's northeastern region yesterday.
Reuters BDP GC1750