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4 missing after 2 ships collide in Pacific off Chiba

This file photo taken in September 2012 shows the Japan Coast Guard's patrol vessel. (Kyodo)

YOKOHAMA, Japan (Kyodo) -- Four crew members were missing after two Japanese cargo ships collided early Sunday in the Pacific Ocean off eastern Japan, the coast guard said.

    The 499-ton Sumiho Maru and another 499-ton ship, the Sensho Maru, collided about 12 kilometers off Inubosaki in Chiba Prefecture around 2:10 a.m. The Sensho Maru, based in Imabari, Ehime Prefecture, sank and four of its five crew, all Japanese, were missing, according to the 3rd Regional Coast Guard Headquarters, based in Yokohama.

    The coast guard was continuing to search inside the sunken vessel, found at a depth of about 30 meters.

    Visibility was poor in the area at the time of the accident due to fog, the coast guard said, adding the Sensho Maru put out a call for assistance.

    All four crew aboard the Sumiho Maru, based in Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture, were safe, according to the coast guard.

    Hiraku Fujita, 60, the captain of the Sensho Maru that had been carrying about 1,300 tons of steel from Kashima in eastern Japan to the port of Sakai in Osaka Prefecture, was rescued, it said.

    The coast guard identified the four missing as Kazufumi Kamimura, 60, Akira Yano, 72, Hiroshi Seno, 69, and Saigo Umakoshi, 67.

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