Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Japanese navy destroyer collides with South Korean container ship off

A Japanese navy destroyer has collided with a commercial vessel off southern Japan, starting fires on both ships and injuring one crew member, defense officials said Tuesday.The destroyer JS Kurama collided with the South Korean container ship Carina Star on Tuesday night in the Kanmon Strait near the southern main island of Kyushu and both were engulfed in flames, a defense ministry spokesman said on condition of anonymity, citing protocol.

One Kurama crew member was slightly injured, the official said.Public broadcaster NHK said none of the South Korean ship's crew members were injured. It also said the Japanese ship's bow was damaged.

TV footage showed orange flames rising up from the vessels in the dark. The collision site is about 530 miles (850 kilometers) southwest of Tokyo, between Kyusu and the western end of the Honshu main island.The Kurama was on its way to its home port of Sasebo on Kyushu after serving as the flagship for the country's triennial fleet review Sunday at the port of Yokosuka.

Last year, a collision between a destroyer and a tuna trawler off the coast of Chiba, near Tokyo, left two fishermen dead. That accident triggered an uproar in Japan, where many people harbor pacifist sentiments and remain sensitive to anything related to the military.

Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa quickly held a news conference and apologized for the accident."We deeply apologize to the people for causing concerns," he said. "We will quickly find out what caused the accident."Kitazawa said the government has set up a taskforce to investigate the collision.


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