TOKYO - Japanese coastguards Thursday mounted a search and rescue operation for 12 crew members of a Chinese fishing boat, after a collision with a Hong Kong tanker off the west of Japan.
Coastguards said they received a report of the collision from their Chinese counterparts Thursday morning stating that 12 of the 16 people on the far smaller fishing vessel were missing and requesting Japan's help to find them.
Japan launched three patrol boats for the operation.
The collision occurred 400 kilometres (250 miles) north of the Oki Islands in the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, officials said.
The Chinese vessel was identified as the 290-ton "Lurong Yuanyu 378." The Hong Kong-flagged ship was identified as "Bright Oil Lucky", a 63,294-ton tanker carrying 21 crew members.
The tanker's crew were believed to be safe, a Japanese coastguard official told AFP.