Japan rescues 26 North Koreans from sinking ship

Twenty-six North Koreans are in Japanese custody after being pulled from a sinking cargo ship off the coast of Japan late Wednesday, informs CNN.

The Japanese Coast Guard (JCG) went to the rescue after receiving a distress signal from the ship, which had run into difficulties off Japan's Kyushu Prefecture, 61 kilometers southwest of the Goto Islands, a spokesman said.

The ship's crew members had evacuated and were on life boats when the Japanese Coast Guard reached them.

In the early hours of Thursday, the sinking ship began drifting closer to the Goto Islands, coming within 20 kilometers of the coast before it was completely submerged.

All crew members are safe and uninjured, the JCG spokesman said.

A 6,558 ton cargo ship, the Chong Gen was transporting more than five thousand tons of rice from Nampo port on North Korea's west coast, to Wongsan in the east, according to the JCG, which is questioning crew members.

The JCG said this may be the first ever time that large numbers of North Korean ship crew members have been rescued by Japanese authorities.

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