(ATTN: UPDATES headline, throughout with more info)
SEOGWIPO, South Korea, Jan. 25 (Yonhap) -- A Hong Kong-registered cargo ship carrying 22 crew members sank off the southern island of Jeju on Wednesday, and 14 of them were rescued, while a search is under way for the others, the Coast Guard said.
Fourteen Chinese and eight Myanmarese crew members were aboard the Jin Tian, a 6,551-ton, wood-carrying ship, when it sent out a distress signal at 3:07 a.m. in international waters 148.2 kilometers southeast of the city of Seogwipo on Jeju, according to the Coast Guard.
The ship was completely submerged when Coast Guard personnel arrived at the scene.
Fourteen of the crew members were rescued by other ships that were sailing by and other rescuers, but nine of them were in a state of unconsciousness, officials said.
Those rescued are likely to be transported to Japan's Nagasaki, the officials said.
The Coast Guard is conducting a joint search and rescue operation with their Japanese counterparts for the eight others with the deployment of five patrol ships and four aircrafts from both sides.
The Coast Guard said the ship appears to have gone down when it sent the distress signal via the emergency position indicating radio beacon, an emergency locator system.
It was found the vessel transmitted its first distress signal via the Digital Selective Calling system at 1:45 a.m. In the last satellite phone call with the Coast Guard about an hour later, the ship's captain said they would abandon the vessel and all crew members would go off board, officials said.