Search for crew of sunken Korean vessel continues

By Kim Bo-eun

The search is continuing for crewmembers of the Korean cargo vessel Stellar Daisy which is presumed to have sunk off the coast of Uruguay on March 31.

The freighter’s operator Polaris Shipping said Sunday a U.S. patrol plane spotted a yellow or orange colored object that appeared to be a life raft. Vessels searched the area but the operator confirmed Monday the object was not a life raft.

“It has been confirmed as an oil spill,” an official at Polaris Shipping told The Korea Times. “The search is continuing.”

The authorities initially believed the object could have been a life raft from the Stellar Daisy. Three of the life rafts which were on the vessel have been recovered while two remain missing.

Among the 24-member crew, only two Filipino sailors were rescued from a life raft the day after the sinking. The remaining 14 Filipino and eight Korean crewmembers remain unaccounted for.

Currently, five merchant ships and one rescue recovery vessel are conducting the search.

A Brazilian Air Force C-130 and a P-3 maritime patrol aircraft have also been employed.

Naval ships from Argentina and Uruguay will also join the search.

The Stellar Daisy departed from Brazil, March 26, carrying 260,000 tons of iron ore for China, but is believed to have sunk after sending a distress signal, March 31.

A crewmember sent a message to the vessel’s operator saying water was entering the boat and it was listing.

The vessel is presumed to have sunk due to possible defects or old age.

The 25-year-old Stellar Daisy was originally an oil tanker which was remodeled into a bulk carrier in China in 2009.

Family members of the missing crewmembers visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Friday, demanding search efforts be stepped up.

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