Crew Missing After Cargo Ship Sinks Off Hong Kong

Rescue teams are searching for 11 crew members thought to be missing after a cargo ship collided with a freighter and sank in the South China Sea.

Crew Missing After Cargo Ship Sinks Off Hong Kong
The New York Times / Ashley Gilbertson

Rescue crews are frantically searching for survivors in the South China Sea after a Chinese cargo ship sank when it collided with a freighter.

Eleven crew members are believed to be missing after the two vessels collided in the waters near Hong Kong. At least one member was rescued by a fishing boat about 3 miles off Po Toi Island, which is just southeast of Hong Kong Island. (Via BBC)

While the Chinese ship, which was carrying cement, is believed to have sunk, the much larger freighter, registered in the Marshall Islands, sustained only minor damage and is still able to sail under its own power.  

Hong Kong is one of the busiest ports in the world. The New York Times explains springtime fog compounded by increased smog from factories has made the waters particularly treacherous for smaller vessels in recent years. (Via Vimeo / Will Cho

"Visibility fell to 1,800 feet during an especially dense predawn smog in August 2004, and four collisions involving a total of eight ships were recorded in a single hour."

And The Wall Street Journal attributes heavy shipping traffic to more accidents in recent years involving injuries or deaths. 

"According to data from the city's Marine Department, 171 people were injured or killed in shipping accidents in or near Hong Kong waters last year. That is down from 232 in 2012 but up from 78 people 2010."

Investigators say they're unsure what caused Monday's collision but explained the rescue mission remains the priority at this point.