BEIJING, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- China Thursday demanded Russia explain how a Chinese cargo ship sank in Russian waters after reportedly being fired on by Russian coast guard ships.
"We are demanding that Russia carry out a swift investigation into the cause of the incident," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said. China also pressed Russia to continue searching for eight Indonesian and Chinese crew members feared dead, Jiang said.
Eight other crew members were picked up by a Russian vessel, Russian authorities said.
The official China Daily newspaper reported the cargo ship New Star, flying under a Sierra Leone flag, sank Sunday after being fired upon by Russian border guards.
Media in the Russian port city of Vladivostok said the guards fired 515 shots at the vessel's bow, the Russian Information Agency Novosti reported.
When the shooting had no effect, the border guards opened fire on the stern, or rear, RIA Novosti said.
The ship, owned by a Hong Kong company, sank in the Sea of Japan during a storm 50 miles from the Russian port of Nakhodka, where it had been held, suspected of smuggling, before leaving without permission last Thursday, China Daily said.
Two Russian coast guard ships were sent to stop the vessel, but the captain ignored their orders, the Interfax news agency said. The guards fired warning shots, but when the vessel still refused to stop, they fired more direct shots, RIA Novosti said.