SEOUL, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- South Korea's coast guard conducted a protracted rescue mission after a Chinese fishing boat capsized near an island off the southwestern coast of the peninsula, managing to rescue about half the crew.
The ship with ten people on board was first spotted at around 10:35 a.m. local time, South Korean news service Newsis reported Wednesday.
The Mokpo coast guard received a signal that a 100-ton Chinese shipping vessel originating from the Chinese province of Shandong had overturned about 50 miles from South Korea's Gageo Island.
South Korea deployed four rescue boats and four helicopters after receiving the emergency call – along with divers – to find additional survivors.
Five crew members were rescued within a few hours, but one man died after several attempts to bring him back to consciousness. A sixth person on board was found unconscious after the Coast Guard came to his assistance, and was reported to be experiencing life-threatening hypothermia.
The man survived, according to South Korea press.
The remaining four Chinese nationals were trapped in the boat and could not be recovered Wednesday, Yonhap reported. The Korea Coast Guard said those who were trapped were most likely taking refuge in an area of the boat with access to oxygen.
The Chinese Coast Guard has been deployed to investigate the accident, and four of the survivors were transferred to a Chinese boat that later joined the rescue mission.
The number of Chinese boats fishing in or near South Korea waters has skyrocketed in recent years.
Last October, 300 Chinese fishing vessels crossed south of the Northern Limit Line that demarcates South Korean fishing interests.
An average of 40-50 Chinese ships trespass into South Korean waters daily, according to South Korea Coast Guard estimates from October.
Intrusive Chinese boats have been cited as one of the reasons for the delay in the Korea Coast Guard's response to the Sewol ferry sinking in April 2014. As more maritime patrol was reallocated to Korean coastal areas facing the Yellow Sea, less manpower was available to rescue passengers on the sinking ship.