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Cargo ship sinks as 11 still missing near Hong Kong: officials

HONG KONG--Authorities launched an air and sea rescue operation Monday to find 11 crew members from a Chinese cargo ship after it collided with another vessel and sank just outside Hong Kong's teeming waters.

Four helicopters and more than 20 ships from China and Hong Kong were deploying to the waters near Po Toi, an island lying at the edge of Hong Kong's territory where the ship sank in the early hours of the morning, officials said.

“Two cargo ships collided and one of them sank,” a police spokeswoman told AFP. Authorities are still trying to determine the exact location of the sunken ship, a marine department spokeswoman told AFP late Monday afternoon.

Aerial footage of the scene shown on Hong Kong television showed an oil slick on the surface of the sea where the ship is believed to have gone down.

A fire department spokesman said there were 12 people in total on board, with police confirming that one male was later rescued and sent to hospital.

Aged 46, he was plucked from the sea by a passing fishing boat, and suffered minor injuries to his hands and feet, police said.

China said it was sending three helicopters and more than a dozen ships to the scene, according to the official Xinhua news agency, while Hong Kong sent a helicopter and eight rescue vessels.

“The rescue is still ongoing and the 11 crew members are still missing,” a marine department spokeswoman told AFP on Monday afternoon.

The department said the collision took place roughly four kilometers south-west of Po Toi, just outside Hong Kong maritime territory.

Crowded Waters

The 97-meter long Chinese cargo ship, the Zhong Xing 2, was carrying cement from the Northern Chinese province of Hebei to the city of Haikou in the nation's southern island of Hainan, the Marine Department said.

It collided with a 300-meter long container ship, the Marshall Islands-registered MOL Motivator, whose crewmembers are all safe, it said.

“The rescue work is carried out and coordinated by the Guangdong rescue coordination centre,” a spokeswoman from the department added.

Hong Kong's waters are notoriously crowded. Hundreds of vessels, from wooden sampans to enormous container ships, ply the shipping routes that criss-cross the territory, one of the world's busiest ports, every day.

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